FLOSSMOOR | A football coach in a television commercial speaks to his team at halftime, pointing out all the mistakes they made in the first half of play. At one point, one of the players says: "But coach aren't we leading 21-0?" The coach replies: "That's the problem, Jones. If you're satisfied, we're through as a team."
Homewood-Flossmoor girls tennis coach Don Baron doesn't have to worry about that when it comes to his No. 1 singles player Adesuwa Osabuohien. Despite a stellar career thus far, the junior is anything but satisfied. Coming off winning the SouthWest Suburban Conference No. 1 singles championship, she still is looking to improve her game.
"I've been doing OK, but I think I can do a lot better," Osabuohien said after a pracrice earlier this week. "I need to focus better, and I need to work on my consistency and mental toughness.
Last year at state, she won four matches, and she looks to do better this year. Homewood-Flossmoor hosts the sectional, and "Ade," as Baron calls her, thinks the Vikings are definitely the favorite to repeat as sectional champion.
Her toughest opponent in the sectional in her opinion is Marian Catholic's Gaby Rosales. Like Rosales, Ade was introduced to the sport by her mother, who played the game. And she started early at the age of 4.
Since then, she gives credit to two coaches in particular: Jack Sharpe, of Hinsdale, and Kamau Murray, of Hyde Park. Of Murray, she said: "He played at Northwestern and has his own club. He's helped me tons. He's like my big brother."
Osabuohien is the oldest of a group of sisters, which helps her with her mental toughness.
"I have to deal with them everyday" she said, indicating it can be challenging to be the big sister.
Asked about her desire to play in college she said confidently, "Division 1!"
Among the schools she is interested are Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Oregon and UCLA. After that, she could even go further, perhaps playing professionally.
"I think I have the talent but need better mental toughness," she said, listing Serena Williams as a professional she admires. The strongest part of her game is in her estimation playing good defense, keeping the match going until her opponent wears down.
Coach Baron gave his junior high marks and has all the confidence in her play.
"She's a solid win as our No. 1," Baron said. "She has the right mindset, and if she stays mentally tough and gets that confidence going into the state tournament, she's a dynamite player. The mental toughness and conditioning will be factors."