In order to create balanced coverage in high school sports around the area, we’re running a recurring section called, “What coach said.” Every week, we’ll cover a different sport and talk to each coach at the varsity level. This week, we’re highlighting girls tennis. The season is young, but every competition and invitational is preparation for the ultimate goal: being the top dog in conference. Here’s what Trinity, Fenwick, and OPRF high schools’ varsity coaches had to say this week:
OPRF had a packed week with matches against Lyons Township, Fenwick, and Proviso West. They were all on the road, and had the Deerfield Invitational meet where they placed 7th out of eight teams. Here is what head coach Fred Galluzzo had to say after the hectic week:
On facing the toughest teams in the state over the last two weeks:
“Anybody who is anybody in girls tennis goes to the Deerfield and New Trier tournaments, and we had the opportunity to get some experience against one of the best teams in New Trier and got to play their blue team, which is their best team. So we are going up against the best of the best in a year where we are a little bit down from last year.”
On no. 1 singles player’s health post-LT match
“[Besma Raja] got some therapy before the match, but she was forced to retire because of her knee. She’s been getting physical therapy on it for a while now, and she is starting to get better. She was on the court, started to feel uncomfortable, so we decided to take her off to stop her from furthering the damage.”
Fenwick also had a congested schedule when they went up against OPRF twice, and McAuley once. They swept the Huskies in doubles which they hadn’t done before. Head coach Gerard Sullivan had this to say.
On momentum created after a successful week:
“We were around .500 going into the week, and after McAuley had a hard time finding a court, we ended up playing on clay. That slows everything down so our girls really had to be patient, but also we played eight matches on four courts so they had to show patience in waiting for their matches, and fighting right through having to create all the offense. We knew McAuley had improved this year so for us to win all but one of our matches was really big for us and gave us momentum going against Oak Park.”
On the team’s ceiling and needed adjustments:
“I just keep reminding them that they’re better than they think they are sometimes. They need to take charge of their matches like they did this past week. This is a sport where you have to keep taking chances. If you don’t, you’re going to let your opponent win. Anytime we’re trailing, I just keep telling them to take chances.”
Trinity‘s slate of matches included a trip to Montini on Sept. 17 and a home match against St. Laurence on Sept. 18. They won both conference bouts, which had second-year head coach Mary Rose Smith loving what she saw from her team.
On teammates feeding off each other’s energy:
“Our no. 1 singles player played the best that I have seen her play. When your best player does well, that usually flows through the rest of the team and we saw that with our singles and doubles teams. Grace Bennett, our no. 2, hasn’t won a lot of her matches but she has taken every match to a tiebreaker and she just picked up tennis this season. The doubles teams have really learned to communicate and play together. Everyone has stepped up.”
On bouncing back after a rough start:
“When you look back to the beginning of the season, we played much bigger schools. Larger schools have a much bigger pool of players and they usually beat us because of that. However, now we are in conference and are facing similar talent pools. You’ve really seen the growth of this team through their work and you can tell they really want to be here. I canceled practice last Friday because they had a half day and they were like, ‘Awwww, OK.’ I am privileged to be coaching this group of girls.”