Illinois Valley freshman learns the ropes (and the net) on tennis team
Before she set foot on campus, freshman Lauren Giordano had never played a competitive tennis match. A few weeks later, she was on the court for Illinois Valley Community College after a friend told her the team needed more players and encouraged Giordano to try out.
Giordano told the Illinois Valley News that there was a steep learning curve at the start of the year.
“Having to get used to getting into the mindset of competitive tennis was hard,” Giordano said. “In the past, I’ve run track, and it’s similar but a different mindset. I had to take a step back and accept more of her coaching and realize I needed her to understand what was going on. One of the biggest obstacles was having to start from scratch.”
Giordano credited her coach with helping her find her place on the team and learn to compete.
“Julie Milota was a big help to me during the first few weeks,” Giordano said. “She could tell I was kind of getting frustrated and brought in someone from the men’s team to scrimmage with me at practice, and that really helped me. It took a while before I was ready to scrimmage with the other girls on the team.”
One thing that helped Giordano early was support from teammates and coach Julie Milota.
“One of my favorite parts of the season was the camaraderie we had on the team,” Giordano said. “The girls were very encouraging of me. Even after I would lose, they’d keep encouraging me and working with me. Without them, it would have been a lot more discouraging.”
It was a rough year for IVCC tennis, winning only two matches, but Giordano said she loved playing and is thinking about continuing.
“Right now, I am trying to decide if I want to transfer after this year or not,” Giordano said. “If I do stay here for next year, though, I am definitely considering playing tennis again. This showed me how to get out of my comfort zone and gave me a new challenge. It helped me work on time managing, and learning to incorporate all this was a good character builder for me.”
Wherever Giordano ends up next year, she said that this year was a great experience and something that she will take with her. She offered some advice for future athletes who find themselves in unknown territory.
“Try to take it head on and accept as much help as people are willing to give you,” Giordano said. “You’re in a situation where you don’t really know as much. You have to take a step back and accept the advice of people around you. There are times where it seems daunting. It’s important, though, to remember there are people who do want to help you and want to see you succeed.”
The IVCC tennis team finished its season at the NJCAA National Tournament in Peachtree, Georgia, with wins against Sauk Valley and Elgin.