Always interested in tennis, Mandy Haupt never acted on those feelings until she was a freshman at Portage.
Up to that point, she played softball, baskettball and volleyball.
"I just picked up a racket, and it felt natural to me," Haupt said. "I watched it on television, and then I told my mother (Marcella) that I wanted to try tennis.
"Every time I stepped on the court, I felt I was improving."
Haupt lettered as a freshman, was 10-6 at No. 2 singles last season, and now she's at No. 1.
"I'm definitely surprised that I made it this far this fast," Haupt said. "I just wanted to keep proving myself. I'm just so happy that I've progressed so much. I'm excited to play No. 1 singles."
Haupt gave up the other sports two years ago when she decided to devote more time to tennis.
"I was finding that I didn't have time to take (tennis) lessons," Haupt said. "I have to constantly keep working to get better, and now I was able to focus just on tennis."
First-year head coach Joe Reid was an assistant last season, and he's witnessed Haupt's development as a quality tennis player.
"I think all along we kind of had an idea she would take over at No. 1 singles," Reid said. "The experience she picked up last year really has helped."
Haupt picked up knowledge even in losses to Chesterton's Meg Modesto, Valparaiso's Caitlin Kennedy and Crown Point's Abby Kvachkoff. All three might be opponents again this year.
"I pretty much know how to play them," Haupt said, "and I've been working on strategies to fight more with them this season."
Haupt intensified her weight training this offseason, which has strengthened her confidence.
"I just tried hitting the ball back last year," she said. "I've kind of grown into my body a little more, and my serve (and returns) are quicker. I can now try to work (opponents) to the left and right, stepping up my game."
Haupt is happy to have a chance to learn the ways of No. 1 singles before her senior campaign begins.
"This year will be hard for me, because I haven't really played it before," she said. "I'm still ready for this season, and what's nice is that I'll be looking forward to next year, also.
"Tennis is something that does come naturally to me, and it's now something I love to do every day."