Meet the girls tennis starters

After falling short of the State tournament last year, the West High girls tennis team enters the 2017 season with high expectations. The Women of Troy netted their first win against North Scott on Friday, March 31st.


Jiung Jung , Copy Editor

West Side Story: Who has had the biggest influence on your tennis game?

Meg Moreland ’18: The other girls on the team actually. They push me to be better and challenge me. I learn a lot from them.

Emma Koch ’19: My tennis coach from the HTRC, Michele, probably has the biggest influence on my game. She has been coaching me since I started playing and has continued to coach me and help me with my game

Kaily Speer ’19: My old coach Sarah [Borwell] and my current coach Dave [Smigel] because they both have always had confidence in me and believed I had potential and really developed my game; they truly have made me love the sport.

Vivian Mitchell ‘19: My mom is definitely my biggest influence since she put me in tennis 11 years ago and told me to never give up on it. I’m really glad I listened to her because I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. I also think my private coaches have influenced my game because they know what I can do and they push me to go farther.

WSS: What are the biggest challenges this season?

MM: Losing players has been rough. We truly all get along and so the thought of not having one of the personalities on the team is upsetting.

EK: One challenge was losing a few players this season. A couple were too busy to play tennis and one of our teammates might be out for part of the season due to injury.

KS: Definitely being down players and also mental toughness. I think a lot of us are really nervous for this season and for playing up due to losing players so we’re going to have to step up our game.  

VM: Our biggest challenge is being down three of our varsity players this season. I also think that it’s going to be tough as a team to play because we have so many new players.

WSS: What are your personal/team goals?

EK: A big team goal we have is to make it to team state this year. We weren’t able to do that last year but I think we have the skill and the drive to do it this year. Personally I just want to continue to improve my game and my mental toughness.

MM: I just want to have fun and improve throughout the year. For the team it would be state.

KS: I personally want to work on developing my game more this season and definitely also want to make it to team state this year.

VM: I personally want to become more consistent with my shots while still hitting the ball at a good pace. Our team goal is to get to state.

Lauren Katz ’18: I personally want to improve on consistency tempered with aggression. I worked on the consistency portion last year, so it would be gratifying to put the two together.

WSS: Who will be your toughest competition?

KS: Linn Mar and City High. Last year we had some problems with Linn Mar and I think it’s going to be tough for us to focus in and let go of that and not play emotionally. City High as well because we have not beaten them in years and going in knowing that can psych people out, but I believe we can end that losing streak to them this season.

VM: I think that everyone on my team is capable of winning every match against the people we play. I think we are very strong players but I think that sometimes mentally we can not be as strong. I think that sometimes we are our biggest competition because we get nervous or upset over how our match is going.

LK: It’s hard to judge who will prove tough competition, especially since we’re down a couple of players. From previous years, though, I’d probably say Linn Mar and City High.

MM: Ourselves. No matter who we play, it’s more about playing our game and not succumbing to our opponents. We have to mentally get over ourselves and just play the game.

WSS: What is your favorite shot and why?

Vivian: Serve. I think that you can really take control of the point based on your serve. Sometimes the serve can decide how your match will go. I also really like the serve because I feel like if I’m confident in my serve then I feel more confident in my overall game.

Emma- I like to volley because I have more control over my shots and it’s harder to get the ball around me because of my length

Kaily: Forehand because I have the most confidence in that shot.

Lauren: Backhand down the line. If I get the shot right, I can approach the net and close off the open court.

Meg: Any that goes in, classic.

WSS: How have you been preparing for the season?

EK: I played tennis this summer and fall at the HTRC with other high school players from Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. I didn’t play much during the winter because of basketball but i tried to get out and hit when i could.

KS: I have been training year round at HTRC and with my private coach.

VM: I practiced 2 days a week at HTRC and took private lessons once a week.

LK: I practiced almost every day over the summer, through the academy over at the HTRC, as well as lessons and camps. I attended an academy-type thing in South Carolina over the summer and was lucky enough to hit with Georgia’s number one girls player. I’ve continued to  play throughout the year, and started ramping it up towards the end of the winter.

WSS: For you, what are the best/worst parts of tennis?

KS: It’s hard to pinpoint one thing as the best. I love how fun it is to compete and the friendships that you’re able to build through tennis. I’ve met so many amazing people through this sport and it’s honestly enriched my life in so many ways.

EK: The best part of tennis is that it’s fun. It’s really intense and unlike any other sport. It’s fun because there is always something you can improve upon no matter how good you are. The worst part of tennis is probably how stressful it can get. Even though in high school you have a team, you are still out there playing all alone.

LK: High school tennis is a bit unusual from other sports, in that you’re contributing to the team outcome but competing on your own. It’s really fun to partake in that kind of sport; there’s always something you can improve on individually, even if you get to the professional level. The other thing I’d say is that tennis is all about strategy and deducing your opponent’s weakness, sort of like a cat and mouse game. That can be mentally tough to deal with, but knowing you have a vital part to play and that every point counts is pretty exciting.

VM: The best part of the tennis season is seeing my teammates everyday and bonding with them throughout the season. The worst part is having to deal with the stress of taking a win for your team during a meet.

MM: It’s a mental game which can be challenging and rewarding. The best part is the support of our team.

WSS: Is there anything that you guys are doing differently this year, as opposed to years in the past?

EK: I think this year we are focusing on being aggressive and taking control of the match instead of playing down to our opponent’s level.

LK: Our motto last year was “never give up.” Although we’re staying true to that expression, we’re hoping to be more aggressive and take command of each point.

VM: Last year we focused on never giving up in our matches. Our coach still wants us to focus on that, but she also wants us to take more control of the court and start winning by being more aggressive than just being consistent.

MM: We are beginning to enact our own game compared to last year. We are playing for ourselves, and we want it more than last year.

Featured image used with permission from Nathan Koch.