Girls' Tennis - A Season to Remember

by Claudia Loucks correspondent

The Geneseo High School Girls’ Tennis 2020 season is one Varsity Coach Kevin Reed and the entire team won’t soon forget.

There were 56 girls on the team this year which is a record for the girls’ tennis program at GHS.

“Having 19 seniors on the team is another record for this year,” Reed said. “Most of these girls have been with the tennis program all four years of high school. Tennis is a life-long sport and my hope is that they can have fun with tennis as a recreational sport and use their techniques that the GHS coaches have shared with them.”

Reed said with restrictions in place due to COVIC-19 he was not sure there would be a full tennis season…”Many different tournaments were shut down because we could only play in our region. There were times when players from other teams were pulled off the court because a family member had COVID. The biggest problem was that every time a girl would play in a match they would get two tennis balls every time they played and as a team, that was an abundance of tennis balls!”

“Overall our tennis players are a great group of girls who had a lot of rules and regulations thrown at them and they overcame those with dignity,” Reed said.

INTERVIEWS WITH 5 SENIOR TENNIS PLAYERS:

-Chloe Adams, daughter of Brad and Candis Adams, began playing tennis the summer before her freshman year at GHS.

“My mom used to play tennis when she was in high school, so she encouraged me to try the sport. Over the summer, I played in a tennis league with my best friend and we ended up joining the high school tennis team that fall. My friend and I ended up playing number one doubles together on the frosh/soph team for two seasons and I played number one singles my last two years.

My favorite part about being on the GHS tennis team was being able to play with all of my closest friends. The GHS tennis team was very supportive and the best team you could ever ask for. I was very glad that I was able to have my senior season of tennis amidst the pandemic. Tennis provided me stability that I did not have because of the virus. Coronavirus has taken a lot from our senior year, but I am thankful it did not take the tennis season.

“I also am involved in soccer and hope to be able to play my last soccer season. After high school, I plan to attend a four-year university to study business.”

Chloe Adams

-Alison Bowers, – daughter of Scott and Kristie Bowers, started playing tennis in middle school.

“I took lessons with Emma Slaymaker. I wanted to try something new, and my mom encouraged me. My parents like playing tennis with me, but my sisters do not. I play at the courts by the high school, but I used to take lessons by the Community Center and at the Moline Tennis Club.

Some of my favorite experiences from tennis include our team dinners and going to the haunted farm after the Mendota meet with my mom.

I attribute the success we had this season to the camaraderie among the team. We love and support each other through every challenge.

In addition to tennis, I am involved in kickboxing and track. I plan to attend the University of Iowa, but I do not know what I will major in. I will not be continuing my tennis career at a collegiate level.

Playing tennis during the Covid-19 was much appreciated because it gave me a sense of normalcy amid the chaos. I enjoyed every moment I could spend with my teammates. While my senior year has been far from what I had hoped, I am grateful to be in good health and still getting an education. Remote learning is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but we are all working really hard and will come.

Alison Bowers

-Emma Claeys, - daughter of Jim and Linda Claeys, started playing tennis before her freshman year.

“I started playing tennis in order to have fun with my friends. No one else in my family plays tennis. I play at the high school courts with my friends.

One of my favorite memories is when I went to Sectionals my sophomore year. Our number two singles player was unable to go to the meet, so I was asked to go in her place. I had never played singles before and had no record. I ended up being the tournament upset because I won my first two matches and was a match away from going to state.

Another one of my favorite memories if from this past season when Emma Dunker and I played Alleman’s number two doubles at Sectionals. Emma and I played the best we had all season that match. We carried an energy that made the match super fun. We both were able to ace our serves, poach at the net, and hit down the line, which we had been practicing all season but had not been able to do consistently in a match. We won and advanced into the semifinals.

Additionally, it was exciting that Emma and I finished fourth at Sectionals and qualified for State.

I’m planning on attending college to study Medical Laboratory Sciences or English. I plan to play tennis recreationally at college.

Tennis was definitely different this year because of Covid-19. We weren’t able to have our normal team bonding experiences, like having tea m dinners or the homecoming dance. Additionally, it was weird not having as many girls at practice because we had to split into smaller groups. I’m very thankful we got to have a season considering some of the other fall sports couldn’t. Having tennis made life seem a little more normal.

My senior year is a lot different than what I envisioned it would be. I had been looking forward to being in class and going to football games and Homecoming, so it’s a little disappointing that none of that is happening. Remote learning has been a challenge. Not

seeing my teachers every day has been difficult and hindered my learning. I miss being in class and seeing my teachers and friends.”

Emma Claeys

-Emma Dunker, - daughter of Brad and Tammy Dunker started playing tennis in eighth grade because she had watched her brother play tennis in high school and wanted to play too.

“I took lessons and classes at the Quad City Tennis Club so I would be able to compete in high school. I also took lessons from Cody Mighell in the summers. I really enjoyed hitting with him. For fun, I also played some with my brother and sister at Richmond Hill and the GHS courts when they were built.

I started playing varsity as a freshman at #2 singles and I was nervous and shy. The older varsity girls were so nice and made me feel welcome. They made me more confident and it made me want to become a better player. I did not make it to State but I went along to support the girls who did. My sophomore and junior years I played #1 doubles with Mary Thomas. We went to State both years. The first time we were so surprised to make it. WE played against Galesburg in the qualifying match and were losing 1-5 in the first set. We came back to win it 7-5. Then our momentum carried us through the 2nd set to win. We worked really hard and were so excited. I remember that as one of the best matches I played. My senior year I played #1 doubles with Emma Claeys. We had a good season. Even though we didn’t do as well at Sectionals as I thought we could, we still qualified for State.

Because of Covid-19, I couldn’t train as much in the summer as I had wanted to. I usually would have worked out at the Tennis Club, but I did not get to do that. I also did not attend a summer tennis camp that I usually went to because of Covid. We had different rules to follow as well. We had to use separate tennis balls labeled with our names and remember to not touch other people’s tennis balls. We had a tournament cancelled early in the season. We didn’t get to have all the fun experiences of Homecoming activities, senior night, and the end-of-year banquet. We also had no State Tournament, which was disappointing after qualifying for it. It was usually a fun culminating experience after a season of hard work.

I have had a great time playing tennis for GHS and Coach Reed the last four years. Coach Reed played a big part in encouraging me to be a better player and helping me find success. Playing tennis for GHS is what I will miss most after graduating.

My plans are to go to the University of Northern Illinois and major in Nursing. I may try to play Tennis intramurals.

This is not how I wanted to have my senior year structured. I am taking some difficult classes and it is hard to learn not being in person. We are also missing out on the usual school year activities like Homecoming, sports events, band events, and being with friends. I am hoping next semester is better and we get to do more things.”

Dunker also has been on the GHS Bowling team in her junior and senior years, although Covid-19 has put bowling on hold so far this year.

Emma Dunker

-Henna Griffin – “I started doing occasional tennis camps throughout elementary school to try out every sport, but when I joined the team in high school, tennis really stuck.”

When asked if tennis is a family activity, Griffin said, “It is when I need practice.”

“I played for the high school team and am hoping to play at some point in college,” she said. ‘I am planning on attending Black Hawk, then going to school to become an art

teacher. I am hoping to play for a college team after Black Hawk. I really enjoyed the tournaments. I could really feel the support of the team and felt especially accomplished at the tournaments. It felt like we became a cheer squad there too. It was definitely a weird season, but I definitely think the struggle and dedication brought us closer in a way.”

Henna Griffin