A sporting spirit
By Rachel Gill
Andrea Joseph first swung a tennis racket at age 6. Now a senior on the Champlain Valley Union High School girls tennis team, she helped score two state championships in the last three years and placed third in last year’s Vermont individual tennis tournament, all of which Joseph considers to be the result of teamwork.
“My teammates at CVU are definitely my favorite part of playing tennis. They are a really nice group of supportive girls and I like being a part of that,” Joseph said.
At last year’s state individual tournament, which draws 44 of the best high school tennis players in Vermont, Joseph scored a 6-0 set from each of her opponents in the five matches she played. Fancy footwork and killer serves both contribute to Joseph’s game, but those moves are no match for the drive she gets from her teammates.
“I really like tennis. It’s a sport that requires a good combination of mental and physical skills,” Joseph said. “You could be a really good athlete but to really play you need strategy.”
Joseph’s strategy is teamwork.
“We cheer each other on,” Joseph said. “My favorite part of the season is at the end when we all get to see how much we have all improved as tennis players and how we’ve grown together as a team.”
Joseph said team spirit is a CVU girls tennis team tradition.
“We do a lot of team spirit events,” Joseph said. “From when I first joined the team as a freshman, I felt included and it was so nice to recognize familiar faces when walking around CVU as a freshman.”
Joseph remembers the moment she learned she’d made the CVU tennis team.
“It was really exciting to hear early. Usually you are called after two days, but I was called after the first day and was told I made the team,” Joseph said. “That I made it felt really cool.”
Prior to CVU, Joseph played tennis mostly for fun. It wasn’t until her middle school years when her game turned competitive.
“After playing tennis at the clinics when I was younger, I became good enough to play in adult tournaments and the adults just took it more seriously,” Joseph said.
Joseph’s mom, Shaly, first introduced her to tennis.
“My mom really got my whole family playing tennis. She made it the family sport,” Joseph said. “I really got to know a lot of people and made a lot of friends.”
Even as a high school tennis player, Joseph still turns teammates into friends.
Claire Stoner of Shelburne, Joseph’s teammate for the last four years, said having Joseph by her side has been a real game changer.
“A lot of times Andrea and I play individual matches on courts right next to each other and that’s very stress-relieving,” Stoner said. “Andrea is happy all the time. It’s extremely contagious. Even when she’s watching teammates’ matches, she is cheering us on loudly to distract us from getting down on ourselves.”
Joseph is no different off the court.
“I’m in a lot of her classes, too, and it’s just the same, nothing changes,” Stoner said.
Amy deGroot, CVU girls tennis coach also sees Joseph’s consistency on and off the court.
“Andrea is a highly sensitive individual who loves to take care of people and she has a level of grace beyond her years. She is impossible not to like,” deGroot said. “She has an uncanny ability to make sure her opponents are feeling good inside while she is thrashing them about on the court.”
With seven of the nine key players from last year’s championship team, deGroot said this season looks promising.
“Prospects look good for us as long as we are healthy,” deGroot said. “We are also very excited to develop the games of new players with an eye on the future.”
One of the new team additions is Joseph’s sister, freshman Kathy Joseph.
“It’s fun to have a sister on the team,” Kathy said. “I am really looking forward to getting to know the team and playing for CVU.”
DeGroot could not be prouder of the team’s welcoming spirit.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to know these messages have sunk in,” deGroot said. “We have a mission statement to train the best competitors in state and also have the greatest team spirit and the fact that we do that as a team and pull those things off together is just awesome.”
Keeping the team focused will help serve up a successful season.
“We talk to the girls about ideas of how to be in a good frame of mind to play point play because what goes on between the ears determines the outcome of the match.”
The tactic seems to be paying off. CVU won it’s first mtach against Burlington High School 6-1 on Monday.
After high school, Joseph plans to attend college, racket in hand.
“In college, I definitely plan on playing club tennis for the fun of it and I want to meet more new friends,” Joseph said. “But I will be done with the competitive aspect so I can focus on my academics.”
Joseph was accepted to Cornell University, University of Vermont, Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon.