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Net may divide court, but not girls tennis team’s bond

Junior+Sofia+Olaru+hits+the+ball+during+a+match+against+Metea+Valley+High+School+on+Sept.+28.+
Carter Speckman
Junior Sofia Olaru hits the ball during a match against Metea Valley High School on Sept. 28.

Tennis is often seen as a solitary sport — players compete individually — yet, for Central’s girls tennis team, the sport is anything but. 

This season, captains Ami Patel, Sahasra Kosuri and Melody Xu, have worked to create bonds between all three tennis levels. 

During a traditional practice, competing teammates are on opposite ends of the court. Even while playing doubles, teamed up players are each in their own corner, controlling their own half of the court. 

“During competitions, they don’t have the opportunity to socialize on the court,” girls tennis coach Jaclyn Kwiatt said. “It’s one of the only cons in tennis.”

The distance during games and even practices limits both any potential conversation as well as physical touch. 

However, bonds among team members are built in other ways. 

One of the ways the team builds community is through a long-lasting tradition called “big sister, little sister,” where an upperclassmen on the team is paired with an underclassmen, and they become partners for most practice activities. It’s a way to learn about the team and for players in different grades to grow closer. 

 “I learned a lot about tennis from my [big] sister freshman year.” Patel said. “Everyone is like a family and no one feels excluded.” 

The sense of community built upon this tradition has expanded into a stronger bond among the players, causing them to be more involved in each other’s lives.

“We can provide different advice and everything,” Xu said. “and it’s just great for passing down traditions and advice and everything like that.”

The team activities don’t stop there. Fridays are “captain led practices”, which is where the three captains coach the team. 

“Fridays are just a way for the whole team to bond,” Kosuri said.

One activity captains often lead is called Scrambled Eggs. In this game, a ball, the “egg,” is balanced on the net, and once the ball falls to one side, the game begins. Players dart around the court in an attempt to keep the ball from hitting the floor and “cracking.”

“It’s a popular game among the team”, Patel said. “It promotes both teamwork and competitiveness at the same time.”

So far this season, the JV and JV2 teams are unbeaten in the DVC and the Varsity is 10 – 8. Varsity also won 1st place in the Naperville North Varsity Girls Tennis Invitational. 

Though a successful team, all three captains stressed the importance of the friendships being made every single day.

“I’ve made the majority of my friends from tennis,”  Kosuri said. “For me, [tennis has been] the highlight of my time in high school.”

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