Solo achievement: Cougars athlete enjoys change of tennis role

For The Tribune

During her three years as a member of the Trinity Lutheran tennis team, Leah Stuckwisch played in both singles and doubles matches.

She played No. 3 singles most of this season after playing No. 1 doubles her junior year.

“I prefer singles,” she said. “I like playing one-on-one. It’s extremely important to win that first set because if you don’t, you really have to push through two more to get the win.”

Stuckwisch, who is left-handed, said her forehand is her strength when it comes to returning volleys, and she likes to play from the back of the court.

“I like to stay deep at the baseline because that gives you more time to react and see the ball, and you have the whole court in front of you,” she said. “If you charge up to the net, then they can hit it behind you and score points. But if I charge the net, I tend to stay up there until I have a chance to get back.”

One of the Cougars’ taller players, Stuckwisch said she took advantage of her height and slammed the ball back when her opponent hit high or lob shots.

She said hitting a tennis ball on a windy day can be challenging.

“The wind can be very difficult to play around because you don’t have anything to block it out (at home matches),” she said. “Out here (at Trinity) you know how the wind is going to carry the ball and where to position yourself for each point.

“It’s kind of nice going to other schools because they do have some trees, or some schools have wind blockers hanging up on the fence, but for the most part, I liked playing at Trinity better than anywhere else because we get more spectators to come watch, and our courts are newer and they are just very nice.”

Playing No. 3 singles, she played on the middle of the five courts at Trinity, and Stuckwisch said she likes that she can look both ways to see how her teammates are playing and give them encouragement.

“It was kind of nice being on court No. 3 because my cousin (Abby Schult) was on court No. 2, so we kind of helped each other out,” she said.

Stuckwisch said warmups before a match were important to learn things about her opponents.

“Warmups are very important,” Stuckwisch said. “You get to move your opponent around and see if she is quick on her feet or see how she hits the ball and how you have to adjust to make a return for what she’s hitting at you.”

The senior joined the tennis team her sophomore year.

“As a sophomore, I came in and I had no clue what I was doing,” she said. “I told the coach that I had never held a tennis racket before. I found out my sophomore year that you definitely have to put in all your effort at every practice if you eventually want to make it playing varsity.”

Keeping a strong mental game makes a difference in tennis, she said.

“Tennis is a little different than other sports because you can’t get frustrated,” Stuckwisch said. “If you show that, you just do worse. You always want to be nice to your opponent. You have to keep an optimistic personality.”

Stuckwisch said her highlight win came early in the season when she teamed up with Lauren Voss at No. 1 doubles to beat Oldenburg Academy for the Cougars’ only point of the match.

She said she definitely made the right choice when it came to attending Trinity.

“My favorite part about Trinity is that we can talk about Christ in every class,” she said. “In English, the students just don’t talk about English. We have journals and we talk about how our faith influences what we’re doing in the future.

“Going to a Lutheran school has definitely prepared me for what’s out there, but it also helps me keep my faith grounded in Christ. I don’t regret anything I’ve done at Trinity.”

Stuckwisch file

Name: Leah Stuckwisch

School: Trinity Lutheran High School

Parents: Jeffrey and Jacqueline Stuckwisch

Siblings: Daniel, Sarah, Matthew

Sports: Tennis, three years; volleyball, one year

Organizations: National Honor Society, student government, dance committee, student ambassador, peer mentor, peer tutor, choir, musical mock trial

Plans after high school: Attend Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for special education

Favorite food: Fruit

Favorite musicians: George Strait, Zac Brown Band

Author photo
Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.