Grounded is a word most teenagers never want associated with them.
But in the case of Crown Point tennis coach Brian Elston, it is the word he wants to use with Abby Kvachkoff on a daily basis.
“Abby’s biggest strength is the work ethic and the persona that she brings to the team,” Elston said. “It may sound cliché, but in this case, how she handles her role is really critical to our team success.”
Being a successful three-sport athlete, Kvachkoff could potentially intimidate other players who have not experienced the same level of varsity intensity seen in basketball or volleyball. However, Elston praised her for the way she engages her teammates.
“Abby is very humble and well-grounded,” Elston said. “She puts everyone at ease with her demeanor. Then she displays an incredible work ethic that lets everyone know what it takes to be successful.”
Kvachkoff, who is the first one to start practice and the last one to leave, said it’s all just part of what it takes to be a winning athlete.
“This is the way I was taught,” she said. “You practice long and hard if you want success. It doesn’t matter how talented you are. Talent will only go so far. You have to practice and condition to hone and improve your skills.”
Kvachkoff didn’t play tennis before high school. But last year, as a sophomore, she earned the No. 2 singles spot and posted a 15-4 record for a Bulldog team that won sectional and made it to the second round of regional.
“I didn’t have a spring sport or conditioning program,” she said. “I talked to Coach Elston and decided tennis would be a great fit to help me prepare for basketball and volleyball.”
Kvachkoff found out that tennis provided a lot more than conditioning.
“It’s a very different sport,” she said. “It’s more of an individual accomplishment. Plus there is a lot more individual accountability and responsibility. It is still a team game, but you know that you’re counted on for a point, and that really emphasizes your contribution.”
Kvachkoff likes the challenge presented by tennis.
“I am a very competitive athlete,” Kvachkoff said. “I always like a new challenge. I like the pressure that it puts on my shoulders. It excites and motivates me. I try to make sure that comes through at practice by how hard and long I work.”
Elston said that other team members pick up on how Kvachkoff approaches her role.
“Don’t get me wrong. The other players all work hard,” he said. “But they see an example from someone who has had a lot of success in several sports. They see how Abby pushes it, and it creates a mindset among the team.”
As a team, the Bulldogs have set their sights on conference and regional championships this season.
“We want to step up to the next level,” Kvachkoff said. “We had some good success last year, but we do not want to be complacent. We want to go at least one level higher. If we don’t set challenging goals, we are only shorting ourselves.”
Personally, Kvachkoff wants to improve her won-loss record and try to get some recognition for all-conference.
“If I can accomplish that personally, I know I will have helped the team improve,” she said. “I want my results to be reflected in the team results.”