This one is really hard to write. There are so many emotions and thoughts and memories running through my head. What makes it so hard is the fact that it’s so much bigger than just me—it’s about you guys, it’s about this team.
When I was a freshman, our team had no chance of qualifying for team state, and nobody qualified for individuals. Fast forward to senior year, and we had two doubles teams place in the top eight for individuals, and the team got second in the state. Holy cow!!! What a big jump. There are so many things that made that possible, but so much of it has to do with the team standing above.
I remember the first day of practice this year, being totally unsure how the season would shake out. With a new coach and so many good freshman coming in, it was going to be a really different year. I had always loved tennis season, and I was really hesitant about so many changes. What I didn’t foreshadow, though, was how incredible this last tennis season at Dowling Catholic High School would be.
There’s really no good place to begin, because there’s so much to say. There are so many thank you’s to go around. So I guess I’ll start (logically!) from the end. Yesterday was a day that went down in history. The first time a girls tennis team from DCHS has EVER made it to the state final. EVER!! That’s pretty insane, if you ask me. There has never been a group of girls that have all been super strong and super determined to get that far—until now! You guys, that is something to be so proud of. The win we got yesterday morning in the semi final to secure a place in the championship is also something to be super proud of. We took down a team with the doubles state champs, and we actually took the champs down individually, too. The grit and the heart and the way I saw you guys busting your butts to get us to the final—incredible. And then the way we fought in the final? Once again, incredible. You guys inspire me. Just when I thought the final would be a blow out because, c’mon, that team is so good, you guys surprised me once again and gave everything you had to keeping that sucker close until the very end. That team had only lost three courts ALL YEAR, and we took three courts in ONE DAY? That’s pretty insane. Despite how ridiculously hot it was outside, and how tired we were from three days of intense, challenging tennis, every single person gave all that they had, and that’s all anyone could ever ask for. I am so proud of everyone.
The loss in the championship was so emotional for me because it was the end of so much. It was the end of our season, it was the end of our undefeated record, it was truly the end of my senior year, it was the end of high school tennis, it was the end of working with coaches in Des Moines I’ve been with since age six, it was the end of what felt like everything. I mean, we worked so hard to get there, and I wanted a different ending for you guys. But as with everything else in life, there’s a great deal to be learned from this experience.
Moving forward, you guys know what it takes to be a state champ winning team. You know what it takes to get there, and you know what it requires of you to finish it out. Maybe that’ll change things for the way you train for next year, maybe it won’t. Either way, you guys have everything you need to make next year exactly what you want. I can’t wait to see what you do and whose butt’s you kick next season.
In the meantime, I want to thank you for making this past season all that it was. As you all know, I’ve played and loved tennis for a very long time. But nothing will ever compare to this year. Every single person on the team, whether you were playing in the state final or were in the crowd supporting us, made this year so special. You each played a huge role in why every practice, meet, sprint, early morning, and competition was so much fun. Never, ever underestimate the power of your presence. You’re phenomenal tennis players, but even better human beings, and that’s something more valuable than a state title will ever be. I’m better after knowing you guys, and for that, I could never thank you enough. Long live the fuzz slappers of 2017. xx