KMC Crusade

Freshman ranked top 15 in Missouri Valley

Returning+the+ball%2C+freshman+Clara+Whitaker%2C+ranked+in+the+top+15+in+the+region%2C++plays+a+doubles+match+at+Kapaun+Mt.+Carmel+Sept.+11.+photo+by+Natalie+Pfeifer
Returning the ball, freshman Clara Whitaker, ranked in the top 15 in the region,  plays a doubles match at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Sept. 11. photo by Natalie Pfeifer

Returning the ball, freshman Clara Whitaker, ranked in the top 15 in the region, plays a doubles match at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Sept. 11. photo by Natalie Pfeifer

Returning the ball, freshman Clara Whitaker, ranked in the top 15 in the region, plays a doubles match at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Sept. 11. photo by Natalie Pfeifer

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Returning the ball, freshman Clara Whitaker, ranked in the top 15 in the region, plays a doubles match at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Sept. 11. photo by Natalie Pfeifer

Before playing a single high school tennis match, freshman Clara Whitaker was named the third best women’s high school tennis player in Kansas by the Tennis Recruiting Network.

“I’m ranked No. 12 in the Missouri Valley, which is Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, [and] Iowa,” Whitaker said. “These tournaments are called futures and supers and you have to qualify for them, but I have enough points in the USTA (United States Tennis Association) that I can just get into them so I don’t have to qualify.”

Whitaker started playing tennis recreationally at 8 years old and then transitioned to competitive tennis in middle school. She is the only freshman on Kapaun Mt. Carmel’s varsity team, and has started the season undefeated.

“Clara has put in years of hard work and commitment into the game of tennis and because of her training, work ethic and discipline, she has been hugely successful so far this season,” tennis coach Kathy Schulte said.

She began her season winning the Collegiate Classic Tournament Aug. 26, which is made up of 5A and 6A high schools from both Kansas City and the Wichita area. Whitaker has also beaten Bishop Carroll’s No. 1 player, Brittany Stevens, “a major accomplishment,” according to Schulte. “I’m really nervous because every match depends on where I get to in state,” said Whitaker. “And everyone thinks of me really highly in tennis and so if I lose they won’t think that anymore. It’s exciting but it’s nerve-racking.”

Despite Whitaker’s high rankings and achievements, she still plays the role of a typical freshman during practice. Her freshman responsibilities include setting up practice, getting the tennis ball baskets out and filling the water jug.

“Clara has a maturity and focus that is extraordinary for a freshman,” Schulte said. “I believe her presence on the team, along with some very focused and driven seniors, elevates the whole team.”

Playing both doubles and singles, Whitaker has set her goal this year to bringing the whole tennis team to state and being successful in state for singles. Schulte has also set the same goal for Whitaker, hoping that Whitaker may be her first singles player to go to state.

“Clara is definitely more aggressive than partners I’ve played with in the past,” said sophomore Claudia Fury. “She’s in it to win it and doesn’t give up easily.”

 

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Freshman ranked top 15 in Missouri Valley