Five of the six senior girls tennis players for Fairfield High sat down with The Ledger to discuss their final year, their last season and their futures.
The quintet includes Hermela Gebremariam, Ashley Pool, Abbey Gridley, Anna Beasley and Cami Schaefer.
What are you enjoying most outside of tennis?
Gebremariam: Outside of tennis, I?d say just making memories with my friends because I know this is going to be my last year and it?s been a really fun time.
Pool: I enjoy making memories with all of my friends before I go off to college, shoutout to Abbey Gridley.
Beasley: Going to Iowa State to tour and finding out I?m going to be rooming with my friend.
Schaefer: This year, I?ve just been trying to make the most out of everything since it?s my last year. I?ve been having fun with friends and doing other organizations like FBLA and dance and drill. Just trying to make the most of my senior year.
What are you looking forward to this season?
Gebremariam: I?m looking forward to us getting a third straight conference championship, which will hopefully happen and we can qualify for team state this year.
Pool:I?m also hoping the team qualifies for state. Personally, I hope to make varsity.
Gridley: Just get it inside the blue, have fun and stay focused.
Beasley: For tennis, I?m looking to go undefeated.
Schaefer: My personal goal is also to go undefeated this year. I?m feeling confident so far, but it?s early. Last year, I started off poorly, but then I rebounded to finish first in the conference in my section. I?m just hoping to have a better start this year and end good, too.
What are you working on improving?
Gebremariam: I really want to improve my net game, especially during doubles. I play with Anatta [Charoenkul]and she?s a really good player, so, it can get intimidating at times and I want to contribute as much as she does. I really want to get better at that.
Pool: I?ve been working on my serves a lot more because I hit a little harder, so it goes into the net more. I?m trying to throw it up higher and hit it over more.
Gridley: Move my feet fast and don?t be lazy, like I usually am.
Beasley: Last year I worked on my serves more, so this year I want to work on front row and making sure I have the correct angle when I try to hit it hard because it?s embarassing when I hit it hard and it goes into the net.
Schaefer: For me, it?d just be doubles in general because I kind of get in my own head a little bit and have unnecessary pressure when I play with someone else because I think I?m going to mess up and they?ll hate me. Also, my net game and being more consistent as a doubles player.
What?s going through your mind when you?re playing?
Gebremariam: I think a lot about what my coach would tell me to do in different situations and after I mess up one time, I say, ?OK, here?s how I?m going to do it.?
Pool: I?m more of a person that holds their tongue and then when they are serving it to me I say, ?I can do this, I can get it over. Just get it over.?
Gridley: Basically, I just always dance. My focus is just that I always have to dance and then I hit it over. I?m basically just bouncing around.
Beasley: I think about what Ms. Grunwald would say and then I just watch the other person when we are warming up to see how they play and take that to the court.
Schaefer: I usually don?t think long term, it?s more just point-to-point thinking about where to hit the ball and what spot I want to hit. When I lose a point, I?m just thinking about what I can do to make the next point better.
Gebremariam: I don?t have any special traditions and contrary to popular belief, I?m actually not staring down people or anything like that. I just don?t smile a lot.
Pool: I like to eat a banana before every meet and I like to serve a little softer when we warm up and then during the match I?m like, yeah.
Gridley: I don?t really have a ritual but I do watch them when we are warming up to see if they are joking around or taking it seriously.
Beasley: If I don?t have my white Nike headband I feel like I will lose because my hair is getting in my face and I freak out. I also have to wear my shoes or it?s not going to work. If I don?t have my headband, something is wrong.
Schaefer: Nothing specific, but I watch to see if the other player is hitting short or long and try to find things that can help me during the match. I don?t stare them down, I kill them with kindness.
Gebremariam: Vanderbilt University to study medicine, health and society.
Pool: Kirkwood to get AA and then transfer to a university to bachelor?s degree in education
Gridley: Kirkwood to study to be a social worker
Beasley: Iowa State elementary education
Schaefer: The University of Missouri to study business