Freshman lead varsity tennis to sectionals, can she do it again?

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Freshman lead varsity tennis to sectionals, can she do it again?

Jim Weimer, staff writer

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Desperately trying to stay in the point, your team cheering you on as you play someone possibly four years older than you on the top spot of your team. Being a freshman on varsity can be tough, but one freshman figured it out last season and almost made state.

Sophia de los Reyes, sophomore who was one of three freshmen on varsity last season, was the only freshman to make sectionals.

“Last year was so new [for her,]” Aaron Rogers, varsity tennis coach from last season, said. “She didn’t know how the high school season worked with the format, or even whether she would be playing singles or doubles.”

Last year Reyes ended the season playing at the top doubles spot on varsity, and ended up being one match away from qualifying for state as a freshman.

“She was seated third at conference tournament, and that doesn’t happen overnight,” Rogers said. “It takes a lot of work, and a lot of trust. You have to trust your partner, and trust me that putting a senior and a freshman together [as a doubles team] was a good thing.”

It can take a lot of time to mold together a doubles team, especially a senior-freshman pair. According to Rogers, creating the relationship and that goes into making a good doubles team can take years of playing together, something Reyes had to figure out in just a couple of months.

“It’s kind of weird because the other players already know the team and know the schedule, but it’s okay because they just welcome you,” Reyes said. “Everyone is supporting you and you get to yell [and cheer], unlike in USTA tournaments where you can’t yell or even clap. When you’re playing at school, you are cheering on your teammates.”

According to Reyes, playing more matches helps ease the pressure of playing, but it is still hard as a freshman to start out at a top spot on varsity. According to Rogers, high school is sometimes a different pressure because it’s a team aspect and your match makes a difference to the team, as opposed to USTA tournaments where you are just playing alone.

“She was just so new and so fresh at the beginning, but she was there to learn,” Rogers said. “She kind of just took everything in. I think she liked the pressure. As the year went on, it wasn’t a question of whether or not she could handle it anymore, it was obvious she could handle it.”

At the same time it can also be really tough because as a 14 to 15 year old, a freshman on varsity can be playing seniors who are 18 and have already been on the team for three years.

“You really just have no idea with freshman about how they will handle pressure, how they will handle the big stage,” Rogers said. “As a freshman you are so in awe of everything. You don’t want to make a mistake or step on any toes, but finally as [Reyes] got more and more comfortable she started to get a personality on the court, [and] we got to kind of witness her growing as a person, as a tennis player, and as a varsity leader.”

 

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