JV Tennis MVP Works Toward Varsity Goal

Gates Plans Off-Season Practices When Weather Allows


Brooke Holliday

JV tennis player junior Ava Gates practices during the off season Dec. 5.

Brooke Holliday, Reporter

     The sound of a racket cracking against a tennis ball when the courts were predicted to be silent for the winter was something new this year. 

     Junior Ava Gates set a goal for herself: to secure one of the top six varsity spots when the next girls tennis season arrives. And she invites and welcomes other tennis players to join her to build their skill sets too. 

     “I just felt like I could do — no, be so much better than how I performed on my first season,” junior Ava Gates said. “So, I began to practice after school for a little every day, and I got better. My dad was really supportive, and I was so thankful for that because he really helped me get better at the sport that I wanted to succeed in.”

     Gates said the practices have been going on since early October, and she planned to continue to practice even though it’s been colder out. 

     “Any time spent on the court is helpful,” girls tennis coach Daniel Berkland said. “What Ava’s doing is great. It shows outstanding leadership, which is a great quality to have.”

     As Gates and the other athletes have mastered tennis basics, they embraced the sport, participating and placing high in local tournaments held at Clayview Country Club.

     “I’ve placed third in one of the tournaments,” freshman Haylee Thompson said. “It was fun, and I enjoyed the experience. Ava’s practices are making sure I don’t fall out of practice in the off season.”

     Thompson took up the sport in the summer, then continued on during the fall season and decided to join in on Gates’s practices.

     Aside from building their tennis talents, the practices have helped the girls develop friendships with one another.

     “It’ll help those girls in the future,” Berkland said. “It’s not even just about the practices, you find that there’s a better sense of community between the girls, and they build a bond that helps the team.”

     Haylee said she was eagerly awaiting her sophomore season, and Gates agreed.

     “I’m excited for next season, and so are the other girls who are a part of this,” Gates said. “We know this will be great for the team.”

     Gates ended last season earning the Junior Varsity Most Valuable Player award as well as Most Improved.