Game, Set, Match

Sophomore+Claire+Wood+competes+during+sectionals+Oct.+10

NCCS/used with permission

Sophomore Claire Wood competes during sectionals Oct. 10

Addie Wolff, Circulation Manager

The girls’ tennis team had yet another successful year. Working hard in and out of season to ensure a great year the girls were able to keep their title of Federal League champs, along with the guidance from the head coach Mr. Ryan Shaffer.
Both teammates and coaches have a big influence on their attitudes towards the sport and their performance.
“My coach, Ryan Shaffer, and all of my teammates play a role in how I play. It helps me get pumped up when I hear my teammates cheering me on,” sophomore Angelina Koinoglou said. “As for my coach, his constant advice helps me stay focused and is a constant reminder of how hard we have worked all year to go out and ‘play to win,’ as he would say.”
During the season the girls have a lot of obstacles they have to overcome to be the team they are.
“I would say the biggest thing my partner, Izzy Warburton, and I had to overcome was during the Canfield match during post-season. This match was the deciding match to see who would advance to district. We got off to a rocky start, trailing behind Canfield’s team. This was a little discouraging at first especially knowing that you’re still in the fight to go to districts,” Koinoglou said.
Not only is tennis physically tough but also mentally, there are a lot of things to think about while playing a match.
“I would say the hardest thing about tennis is the mental aspect. First off, you have to go into your match with a clear mind, not thinking about whether you’re favored to win or not,” Koinoglou said. “Secondly, you have to maintain a clear mind, no matter what the score is, and sometimes when you start giving up points, negativity starts to creep in. You can’t continue to play your match if you’re constantly thinking negatively. Staying positive and keeping an open mind is one of the hardest aspects of tennis.”
Even with all the ups and downs, the players might face throughout the season there are so many memories that have been made along the way.
“My favorite memory of this season was the van ride home from Toledo. After we had just defeated the number four and five ranked teams in Ohio we were all in such great moods. Claire Wood, my fellow teammate, had an aux [cord] and we were all just singing and having a great time in the van and it was probably one of the most fun moments this season,” Koinoglou said.
The team overall has done very well this season breaking all types of records, thanks to the girl’s hard work and well as Coach Shaffer.
“We won the Federal League championship with a 6-0 record and the kids tied the school record for wins for a reason,” Shaffer said. “[We] won 23 matches and lost only one, and ranked fourth state in Ohio for coaches’ poll. In the Ohio team tournament, we reached district finals. Five out of the sectional tour market qualified for the NorthEast individual, out of the five were Tess Bucher, who won the signals championship at section, and the doubles team Lilly Altman and Claire Wood finished third at sectionals, and then Isabelle Warburton and Angelina Koinoglou finished fourth at sectionals.”
Shaffer spoke further about Bucher making it to the state championship.
“Tess qualified for the OHSAA state championship in Mason Ohio,” he said. “All of the seven girls were honored by being selected by all Federal League, and Tess was voted Federal League Player of the Year. All seven were honored as First-team All-Star County by the county tennis coaches, and Tess was here as Stark County Player of the Year.”
The team captions are important to the overall success of the team, they set the tone for the rest of the team and take on big leadership roles.
“The two captions are juniors Lilly Altman and Isabel Warburton; they are good leaders because they are very motivated, and their motivation serves to push the team to practice and play as well as they can every single day,” Shaffer said.
Creating a welcoming environment that everyone wants to be in and work hard is important to the team, so making sure that the girls are all supportive of one another is key.
“The team trains year-round together, with spending so much time together I think they create a bond that makes them very successful, this bond makes them accumulated to one another so they always push each other to do their best,” Shaffer said.
Being a captain takes a lot of responsibility, but is the glue to the team.
“As a captain, my most important priority is to be encouraging towards my teammates and making sure everyone is comfortable. It is a family sport and we want everyone to be content with what role they play,” Warburton said.
Having goals set out that you want to achieve is one of the many ways that makes the girl’s tennis team work so hard.
“My goal this season was to win 20 matches as a team, go to states as a team, and reach districts individually,” Warburton said. “I achieved all my goals minus going to states as a team. The biggest thing that helped us achieve our goals were working hard every day and giving our best effort, having these goals helped me keep focused throughout the season.” n