Tennis Players Compete at State, Team Play Starts Oct. 19

Lauren Van Gheem, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

The Notre Dame Academy tennis team heads back to state in Madison to take another swing at the gold trophy.

The tennis team made it to individual state, which kicked off October 11. They have also made it to team state starting with Quarterfinals on October 19.

“From my experience last year, playing at state is a big deal, but over the years I have grown into a player that pressure doesn’t faze me too much,” said Madeline Darling, captain and returning state qualifier.

The doubles state qualifiers are Bella Zent, senior, and Caragan Olles, junior, and Darling and fellow senior Julia Slusarek. The singles state qualifiers are Grace Purcell, senior, and Jaci Brady, junior.

Olles said, “Playing in any state tournament is going to bring about some pressures. For starters you are playing on courts at the Nielsen Tennis Center in Madison that you don’t get to practice on often.”

Both doubles teams won their first round of competition but came shy of making it past the second round. To win the whole tournament six matches would have to be won.

Darling said, “I am also very confident this year because my partner, Julia, and I have been playing well.”

Olles and Darling both have specific strengths when on the court. Darling believes her strengths are her serve and ground stokes.

“I see my primary strength being the ability to stay composed. When you hit a shot into the net or totally shank a ball into the next court, you can’t dwell on that miss. Every tennis player misses. It’s how you react to that miss that determines if you will continue to do the same thing,” said Olles.

Although these girls work very hard and are dedicated to accomplishing their goals, they have to miss some school in the process.

“The key to staying caught up with school is that I talk to my teachers before and after the days I miss,” said Darling.

Olles explained, “I wish I could say it is easy to stay caught up with schoolwork after missing so many classes for tennis. Teachers are on a strict schedule and do not like to deviate from their plans.”

Darling said, “Julia and I have grown together as a team over this season, so I’m excited to see what state brings.”