MS Athletes Smash the Varsity Tennis Court

Eighth+grader+Carol+Marques+plays+on+the+varsity+courts.+Seeded+fourth+in+districts%2C+Marques+won+one+game+and+lost+one+game.

Kayla Alexandre

Eighth grader Carol Marques plays on the varsity courts. Seeded fourth in districts, Marques won one game and lost one game.

Alexandra Rubin, Intro Writer

Being on the varsity tennis team as an eighth grader may seem like a challenge to some, but eighth graders Carol Marques, Claire Randolph and Laziza Talipova have been able to take on the challenge with a good attitude. Varsity girls and boys tennis head coach Richard Babyak said the positive attitudes of the three athletes have a big impact on the entire team.

“It’s really their willingness to learn,” Babyak said. “They don’t think they know it all, and they’re very open to suggestions. Not that the other players aren’t, but it’s their first year on varsity, so they’re trying their best to please the coaches and their teammates to show that they belong.”

Marques said that the welcoming nature of the other varsity players made it a lot easier to transition into a team with players many years older than her.

“I feel very welcome on the team,” Marques said. “Everybody accepted me, and even though they’re all older than me, they’re always super kind to me, and just made sure I felt included. Especially Kelsey, the captain, and just the whole team is so sweet to me.”

The varsity tennis team can be a big commitment, especially for a middle-schooler. However, the eighth graders have found a way to be able to attend every practice and match, and still complete all of their school work.

“Sometimes it does get to be a bit overwhelming, because you have practice all the time,” Randolph said. “But, practices are only for an hour and 45 minutes, so I still have a lot of other time to get all of my work done.”

All of the eighth graders have been able to overcome the struggle of balancing sports and school. In tennis, for singles matches, players are seeds “planted” into positions in the bracket in order of skill ability. All of the eighth graders have played their way into the five seeds for singles matches.

“We are all seed two, three and four on the lineup,” Talipova said. “So it’s like a pretty good trio if you ask me, and we’re always just there for each other as well.”

Babyak said that all three athletes have impressive positions on the team.

“[The eighth graders] have really stepped in, and they’re an integral part of the team,” Babyak said.

Talipova said that to be able to make it into the seed she is in, she had to have a lot of inspiration, motivation and had to work extremely hard both during the season and off-season.

“Last year, I looked in the yearbook and I saw another kid who was an eighth grader on the varsity boys team,” Talipova said. “So I thought I could probably try out and we’ll see what happens. So I worked really hard all summer and played in tournaments and for the varsity team, and I ended up making it.”

With this dedication, the team record came out to be 8-6 this season. All three athletes said they have enjoyed the challenge and hard work they had to put in for varsity.

“It’s a big commitment, and I didn’t know how big the commitment would be,” Marques said. “But, if you have the dedication, and the time and the willingness to do it, I would 100 percent recommend [it].