Timeout Girls Tennis: Andrean’s Grace Cooper steady as she goes
By Josh Lichtnefeld Post-Tribune correspondent May 7, 2013 11:36PM
Andrean senior Gace Cooper waits waits for a shot from Highland's Aby Madrigal during their singles match in Merrillville Tuesday May 7, 2013. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Girls Tennis Extra
P-T Top 5
1. Munster; 2. Chesterton; 3. Valparaiso; 4. Crown Point; 5. Highland
Grace Huss, Whiting
The Oilers’ No. 1 player won her point 6-3, 6-1 as they won their 10th consecutive match, 5-0 over Griffith.
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:39AM
With around three decades of coaching experience, Carol Metzcus has a thorough read on student athletes. She knows when her girls are putting in the work and when they have their minds set on improvement.
So, when she took over the Andrean girls tennis program last spring it didn’t take her long to notice then-junior Grace Cooper. In fact it took Metzcus about a half hour.
“She leads by example at — at practice she has a great attitude,” Metzcus said of the two-year starter at No. 1 singles and a standout on the 59ers volleyball team. “You wouldn’t know if she’s winning or losing, because she’s very even-tempered.”
It’s that balanced nature that not only allowed Cooper to earn the No. 1 spot on the squad soon after her first impression, but has also enabled her to show vast improvement since coming out as a sophomore and playing No. 2 doubles in 2011. Andrean improved from a winless campaign in Cooper’s first season to finish with three wins, as she held a 10-6 singles record, in 2012.
“When you combine a great attitude and you’re working with student athletes that are smart and have great determination,” Metzcus said while describing Cooper.
Though Cooper hadn’t seriously picked up a racket until a couple of seasons ago, she was able to translate the athletic nature of her role as a setter on the on the volleyball team (which won both the sectional and the regional this past fall) to tennis.
“I wanted something new and a new challenge,” Cooper said. “I had played softball my freshman year (and joined tennis) because it was just so much fun and laid back and looked like a fun sport to play.”
Now with a more experienced unit of six seniors — including four that came out fresh with Cooper as sophomores — the chances are there for the 59ers to add even more tallies onto this spring’s record. Currently, they’re 5-3 overall (3-2 in the Northwest Crossroads Conference) while Cooper has jumped out to a 7-2 start.
“I just try to keep focused and, like, if I lose a point, forget about it and try to get the next one,” Cooper said.
Metzcus points to a few items that have sped up Cooper’s success.
“She trusts herself, that’s No. 1. She doesn’t back up, she doesn’t give up anything, she’s smart and she has really sound tennis skills,” the coach said.