Serving Up Second

On October 15, the BVN girl’s tennis team placed second in the State Tournament in Wichita. The team’s second-place finish came after winning both the regional and EKL tournaments. Their EKL win was their 17th win in a row and their regional win was a feat the team had been unable to accomplish last season. The team was composed of the top six players from BVN, including seniors Joy Yan, Emma Razi, Meghan Coleman and Sophia Baillos, junior Nancy Di Palo, and sophmore Shelby Smith. While the team competed at a high level throughout the postseason, it was not a guarantee. With a number of players graduating last year, some feared the team’s results wouldn’t compare to the 2021 season.

Senior Emma Razi and Joy Yan both played all four years at BVN and were a part of the state team this year. 

“We were just really unsure,” Razi said. “We lost a lot of seniors last year and we weren’t sure how well we were gonna fit together and size up.”

However, when members of the team faced personal challenges, the players built closer bonds and were able to succeed on the court. 

According to Yan, because of the struggles, “We got a lot closer.”

The team bond contributed to the team’s success and allowed them to persevere through obstacles and challenging opponents. 

Junior Nancy Di Palo played in Salina with her doubles partner Razi. 

“When we’re down in a match or when one of us isn’t playing [well] we’ll always be watching the other one and just hearing your teammates cheering for you on the sidelines can give you encouragement,” says Di Palo.

Yan attributes the close bond the team had to the fact that a large number of players were seniors. 

“We got closer,” Yan said, “Most of the people on varsity are seniors and so it was our last year and it was really sentimental.” 

As the seniors’ high school careers come to a close, Yan and Razi reflect on their time on the team. They both had different memories that stood out to them from their time on the team. Razi remembers taking trips with the team to Wichita for tournaments. She enjoyed staying in the hotels with her teammates and getting food with her coaches. 

“Traveling together was just a fun experience and it brings us closer together,” Di Palo said. 

Photo by Alex Robertson

Yan also remembers her favorite moment from BVN tennis as a moment of team bonding. Albeit her memory involves a tradition that the whole team partook in. 

“The kidnapping,” Yan says. “Freshmen year when I woke up at 4 a.m. from Callie Flanagan and Christine.”

The team tradition begins early in the morning when upperclassmen “kidnap” their spirit sisters and take them to IHop where the whole team gathers and shares breakfast together. 

As Yan and Razi leave the tennis program they share their advice for new players and underclassmen. 

“Have fun,” Yan said. “The best part is meeting and establishing relationships with other people because I met my best friends through tennis, you never know who you’ll meet.” 

Razi made many friends on the team and has many good memories of her time on the team and she advises new players to do the same. 

“Tennis is a really great place to make friends and memories.” Razi said too, “Just have fun. Learn something new.”

While Yan and Razi are graduating, Di Palo will continue her time on the team next year for her senior season and encourages new players to join the team. 

“No matter what level you are, the tennis team is such a big team,” Di Palo says. “If you just want to join tennis to make friends, do it.” 

The girl’s tennis season has concluded and for many their careers will end as they finish their senior year. While the team will no longer meet after school for practice, the girls will continue to nurture the bonds they built throughout the season and will return to the court next August.