Girls tennis

Valparaiso's Kelly Kennedy picks up her game at No. 1 singles

2012-05-08T18:00:00Z 2012-05-09T06:25:23Z Valparaiso's Kelly Kennedy picks up her game at No. 1 singlesBy Jim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com

Kelly Kennedy might be in the midst of her second prep tennis season at No. 1 singles, but the Valparaiso sophomore isn't about to rest on her laurels.

Kennedy continues to push herself, and she owes some of that dedication to her practice partner, twin sister Caitlin.

"She's improving her game, so I have to, also," Kelly said of Caitlin, who is at No. 2 singles for the Vikings. "I have to try harder to find ways to neutralize her. My goal is to be best I can be, and I think she helps me out."

Through 1 1/2 seasons, Kelly Kennedy is 13-11 at No. 1 singles, and that includes a 7-3 mark through 10 matches as a sophomore. She has six straight-set wins — and she didn't drop a single point in four of those matches.

She's honed some of her skills to become more competitive, picking up the velocity on her serve and gaining more confidence with both her forehand and backhand.

Her losses have come to Kankakee Valley's Abbey Hamstra, Chesterton's Bobbi Modesto and Highland's Vanessa Madrigal — three of the top singles players in the area.

"I feel like I'm having better rallies (in the losses)," Kennedy said. "I feel like I'm getting closer. It definitely helps playing those opponents, because they force you to play at your best."

Even though she's at No. 1 singles so early in her career, Kennedy still defers to her older teammates, like senior and No. 1 doubles player Sonja Schaefer.

"They have the experience," Kennedy said, "and they help you learn what it takes to be a on a team."

Valparaiso coach Tim Shideler believes Kennedy's realistic approach also keeps her competitive.

"She's very well-grounded," he said. "She's starting to get to the stage to build confidence in her game."

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