State through my eyes

I reflect on my experience at tennis team state

In tennis, love means zero. It’s how we say the score, even though it sounds confusing. But for me, love means tennis. It means surrounding myself with my team and creating memories that I’ll never forget. And this weekend, I was able to create a memory I’ll carry around with me forever.

Team state is almost like the final round in a game. One last chance to play your heart out. One last chance to cheer with your teammates. One last chance to bring home the state championship. While it sounds like a completely happy ending, it also brings many tears and hardships.

The weekend of team state was an adrenaline rush. The eight best teams all gathered in one stadium, and we felt like the team with targets on our backs. We won team state the previous year, and we were out to win that title again. The courts were surrounded by people gathered to watch. Families, friends and players cheered for their teams, shouting names and helping pump up the players on the court.

The first round was almost a practice round, and my partner, Bridget Brown, sophomore, and I were able to get through the match easily. However, the intensity of Nielsen affects everyone differently. Some play their best and some play their absolute worst, but everyone wants to do her part and contribute to the team. Our team is all over the place sometimes, but we always come together in the end and help each other out.

The nostalgia of the season hit me the last day of state. The fact that this was my last day of my sophomore tennis season was a weird feeling, one that I both liked and feared. We gathered in a nearby tennis club, with everyone crashing on the couches and taking in this environment for the last time. The team speeches were short but sweet, and I knew I wanted to win for these girls today.

I had a lot of questions running through my mind. What if we lost? What if I fail my team? What if I disappoint my family that came to watch? I was desperate for today to go well, and I was hiding it by running all over the stadium, trying to find my friends and muttering under my breath how much I hope the other team loses the point.

While the second round of state was hard, the difficulties were nothing compared to going into the finals. We said our vision statement for the last time, and I finally was able to say all the words perfectly. I had struggled during season to memorize it, but this final time the words really counted.

My coach had wanted me to focus on positivity. My partner and I were an emotionally unstable partnership throughout season, but we made it work. We came a long way since our first time playing together and I was proud of what we had accomplished. In the end, I managed to smile more instead of looking freaked out and mad, and my partner wasn’t hitting her leg with her racket as much.

My partner and I cruised. It was one of the best matches of our season, and it was the best way to close out playing two doubles together. And while I was happy about how my match had gone, I knew I needed to get to the stands quickly and cheer on my teammates in the final.

All eyes were on Jamie Gebhardt, sophomore, whose win would secure us the state title. We were piled in one little section, screaming our heads off and trying to be louder than the other team, Neenah. Parents were anxiously watching and I was holding on to my friend with one hand, and holding on to a CapriSun (the team’s most prized drink) with the other. Phones were out on the last point, and then the opposing player hit the ball into the net.

Everyone immediately stood up. Tears formed in some of the girls’ eyes, and others jumped up and down while taking videos. We just won team state two years in a row, and I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks to this team, I have gained so much. I found new friends that I truly care for. I gained more love for the sport I’ve been playing since I was a little girl. I’ve challenged myself to play harder and harder everyday, eventually earning us a two-year undefeated record. I formed a bond with the team that will never be broken.

I’m lucky to have won the state title both my freshman and sophomore year. I’m still so young, but I’ve witnessed so many amazing moments through high school tennis. I’m thankful for the seniors that have brought the team together and worked so hard in their four years of high school tennis. I’m thankful for the coaches for keeping us focused and helping us improve. But most importantly, I’m thankful for this game for allowing me to be passionate about something and giving me the chance to achieve so many incredible things.

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