Tennis Team Takes Aim at State Tourney


Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Fall brings many things: light jackets, pumpkin carving and, of course, the exhilaration of football season. However, at Notre Dame,  many other athletes are embarking on their own journey to state in this fall sports season.

“Our goal is always to get to individual state and team state,” said Madeline Darling, a senior at the Academy and a captain of the girls’ tennis team. “We have a bunch of seniors on the team and everybody really wants to make it.”

“I have faith in our team because we have a lot of great players and we are definitely capable of making it to team state,” agreed Julia Slusarek, another senior and Darling’s doubles partner. “I also want to make it on that podium at individual state.”

The girls’ tennis team has been good for years and are strong competitors for state this year.

“Recently we were in Milwaukee playing in a tournament that basically determines how state will go, and a bunch of girls on the team got in the top 5, which is huge,” said Darling.

“This is Julia and mine’s first year being partners and being able to have a strong relationship off the court makes it possible to play so much better on the court,” explained Darling.”I am lucky to get to be partners with my best friend. We really are a team!”

Both Darling and Slusarek have been on NDA’s varsity tennis team since freshman year.

“This year has been the most fun season in my entire high school career, and it’s the first year I have ever played doubles,” said Slusarek. Both girls have been playing tennis since they were in elementary school.

“I was asked last year why I made the switch from singles to doubles,” recalled Slusarek. “I switched because I wanted to do something different and I love every minute I get to play with my best friend.”

Coach Steve Burns has coached Darling and Slusarek for the entirety of their Notre Dame tennis team.

“He doesn’t like to see us get frustrated with ourselves and tries to push us to reach our full potential,” said Darling.

“Coach Philly (Kuenzi) is our new coach this year and he is such a catch,” added Slusarek. “It took me a while to warm up to him because I was uncomfortable with changing my doubles habits, but he only made Madeline and me better.”

The atmosphere of practices are laid back and the varsity girls are aware of the expectations.

“It’s fun to play each other because it’s practicing and socializing at the same time,” said Slusarek. “We are all friends with each other and don’t want to let the rest of the team down.”

The team has gone to four invitationals with one more to go. The tournament is in Milwaukee on September 22 and the outcome will determine which teams are headed to state.

Support is always welcomed as the girls have a very high chance of qualifying for state.