Some people say consistency is king and and momentum is key. In that case, the Waukee girls’ tennis team is in great shape as they wrap up their regular season and look forward to postseason play.
Entering into their final few contests of the regular season, the Warriors are playing some great tennis and in the world of social media, are trending in the right direction. Waukee has claimed victory in three out of the last five matches while winning five out of the last seven contests. Waukee has claimed three shutout victories within the past seven matches, averaging seven match wins a game compared to averaging three just losses a contest.
The Warriors have been really good about highlighting their strengths this season through a roster that includes eight freshmen as head coach Chad Jilek mentioned.
“We as a team know our strength this season has been in singles matches,” began Jilek. “We’ve been solid with our fundamentals for the majority of the season despite some inexperience through a lot of underclassmen.”
One of the veteran leaders on the team, Allie Witte shared those same thoughts.
“Our biggest strength as a team does come with singles matches,” said Witte. “We’ve become much better at setting our feet individually and making sure we have good form.”
Of course, with every highlight, there is a need to improve for every team, and for the youthful Waukee Warriors, there’s one thing in particular that catches the eye of coach Jilek.
“Our biggest room for improvement comes in doubles,” started Jilek. “We’re a young team that isn’t as strong in doubles and that’s what we’re working on more and more in practices.”
Along with the saying of consistency is king, the youthful Warrior girls’ roster has had nearly a full season under their collective belts and with it a constant does of building chemistry.
“I’d say that the underclassmen have developed much more chemistry with the upperclassmen and that has really helped us improve lately. Once you develop a strong bond with someone it’s easier to anticipate the others’ moves in doubles matches,” said Witte.
Waukee junior, Elizabeth Messman expressed those same thoughts when it came to the underclassmen and their development, adding a physical component to the conversation.
“I agree with Allie in that we’ve grown a lot as a team this year,” began Messman. “The underclassmen have picked up on the doubles strategies a lot more as of late. In doubles you need to be more aggressive and the freshman and sophomores have improved a lot on that lately.”
An area that has seen the most positive impact based on team growth has been battling the weather. Central Iowa is nothing but a big question mark when it comes to determining the type of weather day in and day out, presenting a wide variety of challenges. Wind seems to be the most consistent challenge from the weather and with winds having averaged around 15 miles per hour this April, the Warriors have had to put their wind breakers on quite often.
The Warriors have experienced more of their fair share of windy matches which has forced Waukee to handle some tough situations.
“With the wind I feel you need to be even more consistent with your hitting and make sure you have plenty of net clearance,” said Witte.
Messman added similar notes diving deeper into the mechanical side of things.
“You also have to make sure you don’t set your feet too early.” said Messman. “The wind can easily take the ball in another direction and you have to be ready to change directions at the last minute.”
With the end of the regular season drawing near, Jilek looks back on a team that grew a lot with a lot of underclassmen but what some would view as a disadvantage heading into the postseason, Jilek views as a big advantage.
“We have had the unique situation last year with multiple girls inside our top 15 on the team,” began Jilek. “The good thing about playing so many young athletes at the varsity level is that it gives them a lot of valuable experience and that adds to our depth. Before we were strong one through four maybe one through five but now we can put ten girls out there with a good amount of experience and be really strong.”
Coach Jilek and his Warrior team will be embarking upon their fourth and final home match of the regular season today beginning at 4 p.m.