“Slow and steady” wins in girls’ tennis


Daniel Holland

Gabrielle Rush, senior, delivers a serve at tennis practice.

The girls’ varsity tennis team, the second place finisher in 2012 and the state champion in 2013, is gunning for a repeat this year with an experienced group of sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

A difficult schedule to start the season along with the absence of some of the team’s top players led to a second place finish in their last tournament, but the players’ returns along with experience and depth on the team has both the players and Coach Scott Radecki optimistic.

“We’ve got about 16 unbelievable players on our roster that are state lineup players, and it just makes it difficult for other teams to compete with us,” Radecki said.

“Katie Lee, a senior last year, was a really strong player, but the year before we lost two or three [strong players] too, so we’ll step up and replace them,” said Sandra Keta, junior.

Keta, last year’s number three singles player, is a firm believer that the team can achieve victory for the second year in a row, and she doesn’t believe the pressure of the recent success is too great. Although neighboring schools, like Lyons Township, have impressive freshmen joining their teams, Keta and sophomore Erika Oku both believe that the Devils will come out on top.

“It’s always pressuring to play LT, but other than that we’re just trying to play as fun as possible, and I think that’s the way there isn’t a lot of pressure in those situations,” Oku said.

The team has done well so far this season with victories and close finishes in a number of tournaments, but all the players agree that winning state isn’t their main goal.

“I never say that we’re going to win state,” Radecki said. “The goal is to improve individually day by day, and hopefully that’s the end result. As a coach, I never look too far ahead. We’ve got a match against Downers North tomorrow and another the day after that, so short baby steps, and hopefully we’ll get there.”

“People are always asking how we have done so well in past years,” Keta said. “And I honestly think it’s our winning tradition and the fact that we’re just having fun playing that really allows us to win.”

“Slow and steady wins the race” is this team’s motto as they are simply playing for the fun and the practice. With matches in the near future and great success in recent weeks, this tennis team is going strong, but the pressure isn’t getting to the girls as they are simply taking it one step at a time until State.