When Hallie was a freshman trying out for the high school tennis team – she had a simple goal – she wanted to make the JV team. She knew as a freshman that may be a long shot, but she worked hard and we were so proud when she made was #4 JV and ended the season as #2.

Her sophomore year, her goal was to make the varsity team. This was an even longer shot than making the JV the year before. There were 6 returning varsity players (only 6 on the roster) and there was the JV #1 returning. And yet, she showed up to try-outs and out performed many of the returning players and earned the varsity #4. We couldn’t believe it – not only did she earn the position, she competed strong and earned a singles spot at the state tournament.

Her junior year, her goal was to earn the #1 spot. I learned long ago to not doubt her abilities or her willingness to work hard. At the end of tryouts she was #2 and her best friend was #1. We had to keep reminding her to be the #2 player at one of the largest and most competitive schools in the state is still an amazing accomplishment – but that wasn’t what she was working for – she wanted #1. A couple weeks into the season she challenged for the top spot and won and went on to win the #1 singles in our region. She earned it. She competed in state in doubles and made it to the quarterfinals.

Her senior year and final season her focus started to shift. She wanted the #1 spot, but more importantly she wanted to compete in doubles at the highest level in the state. Not only did she earn the #1 spot, she defended and earned her position all season long against her best friend, remaining #1 the entire season (which is unusual). Together, they earned the #3 spot in the state in dboules and lost in the semi-finals to the #1 team.

We could not be more proud of all she accomplished. She worked hard. When it was 108 degrees outside and she didn’t want to train – she still showed up. She did camps, tournaments, weight training – she gave it her all. I was impressed with how she managed her training schedule, especially her senior year, when she doubled down on playing opponents outside of her traditional clinic training.

I think it’s easy to look back on years of hard work “coming to an end” and question whether all the time and money was worth it. She decided she doesn’t want to play in college and we totally support her decision. Even then, I can say with certainty it was all worth it.

She proved herself over and over again and more importantly, she learned how to set and work towards goals. She gained mental strength only acquired from an individual sport. She learned commitment and wasn’t always available when her friends were doing things. On top of that, tennis brought beautiful friendships and gave her something to belong to throughout high school. She learned leadership and she has a team of girls who look up to her.

At the end of the year banquet, Hallie was the final player honored with her #1 player and captain plaque. The coach read kind things her teammates had said about her and I agreed with every single one of them. He shared Hallie’s favorite memory and what she learned from the season. And then the coach got quiet. It appeared he was trying to find his place on the page but then I realized he was choked up and emotional. He was sharing Hallie’s response to the question “Things to improve on for next year”. Obviously, this question was intended for returning players. But Hallie still answered and she had many of us in tears as coach emotionally shared her response, “I want to come closer to my Savior on my mission and bring others to Him!”

That is exactly who Hallie is and it was the perfect ending to wrap up a beautiful chapter. Tennis was such a big part of her life – but it wasn’t everything and now she’s going to focus on other things and continue to grow and develop in new ways.

But I’m sure going to miss watching her on the court!