All Jessica Gomez needed was her first shot.
When a fellow T.F. South tennis player was sidelined with eligibility issues, the freshman got that shot. Rebels head coach Clinton Scott inserted Gomez into the No. 2 singles spot, and the rest was history.
"Once she got that chance she took it and ran with it," Scott said. "It was a no-brainer after that."
Gomez has compiled an individual record of 18-4 in her first season of high school tennis. Her second-place finish in the conference tournament helped lead her team.
Gomez admits that her immediate success at this level has caught her off-guard.
"I'm very surprised," she said. "I really didn't think I could do that well, especially in my first year."
Scott said that he knew that Gomez was capable of such performances.
"She was my student a long time ago, when she was 7 years old," the Rebels' coach said. "She started with me in the park district. Once I saw how she could play (this year) I wasn't surprised at all."
Seven years later Gomez seems like a confident leader of this Rebel tennis team. But, she says, that's not how her season started out.
"I was shy at first, so this was hard," Gomez said. "It was all new to me.
"Being on the tennis team definitely helped with (the transition to) high school."
With Gomez now rolling in her freshman year and No. 1 singles player Andriana Johnson looking for a state bid in her sophomore year, the future in Lansing looks bright.
"I'm optimistic for the future," Scott said. "We fell a little short (at the conference tournament), but next year we have some players coming back and we have an eighth grader coming in that is going to solidify our base.
"We have a very good chance of competing for the conference championship for the next couple years."
Of course, there is still some business to take care of in 2010.
Gomez and her Rebel teammates will compete in the Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional on Friday and Saturday, with spots in the state finals going to the first-through-fourth finishers at singles and doubles.
As a No. 2 singles player, Gomez will be unranked, making her road to state that much more difficult.
The up-and-coming star isn't going to let anything like that worry her.
"I just want to be a state qualifier some time during high school," Gomez said. "I have four years to do it."