Alyssa Silvernail and Madison Egan share the spot as the Rogers High girls tennis team’s top singles player, but together the two can lead the Rams to success this year.
Silvernail has always felt comfortable as the Rams’ No. 1, go-to player on the court. Now a senior, she’s using lessons from the past to find success in the present.
“I guess the No. 1 thing that helped me prepare for the season was that not every shot has to be a winner,” Silvernail said. “Keeping everything in control and playing the point out one shot at a time has helped my game improve.”
Learning to take control of a match has been the biggest lesson for Silvernail. But in tennis, control is the name of the game — it’s what every opponent is trying to accomplish.
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One shot doesn’t win a match, Silvernail added, and over-exertion on any play can cost a player in the long haul.
You definitely want to pick your spots. If you put too much into your swings all the time, it can throw you off the rest of the match. It can tire you out.
“You definitely want to pick your spots,” she said. “If you put too much into your swings all the time, it can throw you off the rest of the match. It can tire you out.”
Control is the hardest thing to obtain in tennis. In a match, it’s obtainable with enough work, but Silvernail learned life teaches us more about what a person can control.
Having spent the majority of her career as either Rogers’ No. 1 or No. 2 singles competitor, Silvernail should have walked into her senior season with a firm grasp on the Rams’ top spot. After all, she’s earned that right.
But in stepped freshman Madison “Maddie” Egan.
For three years, Silvernail was the unquestioned No. 1 player on the team, but that ultimate uncontrollable aspect in sports struck Silvernail each season: injuries.
I definitely don’t have the strength behind my swing that I used to have. It’s more about placement and trying to control the match now.
“I tore my labrum in my shoulders, and that took time to heal and get over,” Silvernail said. “I definitely don’t have the strength behind my swing that I used to have. It’s more about placement and trying to control the match now.”
But history has forced Rogers coach Nathan Whitley to make a team decision this year: Pair Silvernail with Egan in the top spot.
“Alyssa has been our No. 1 for three years, but she has battled injuries every year (and) she has yet to play a full season,” Whitley said via email. “(Silvernail) was one win from state a year ago. Between Alyssa and Maddie, we have a great 1-2.”
With Rogers starting the season 2-0 and both Silvernail (6-2, 6-1 over Mount Rainier on March 17) and Egan (6-0, 6-1 over Decatur on March 15) have each started the season 1-0 in the Rams’ top spot.
One more trip?
There is one over-arching question that follows Egan as she enters the final athletic season of her freshman year.
I feel like (tennis) will be a lot of fun, especially coming from cross country and basketball — a really good two seasons.
Can she make it to state again?
After already reaching the state meet in cross country (84th place; 20:17.6 minutes) in the fall and making it to the Sweet 16 in the 4A girls basketball bracket in winter, Egan has the chance to finish her freshman year in style.
“I feel like it will be a lot of fun, especially coming from cross country and basketball — a really good two seasons,” Egan said. “I feel (tennis) will be a lot of fun.”
Making it to state in the other sports were great experiences, Egan added, but they were just warm-ups. Tennis is where things begin and end for Egan. Back in October, Egan admitted her purpose of running cross country for Rogers was to keep her in shape and build up her endurance.
“As long as I can outlast my opponent, then I should be good if I get the ball in,” Egan said. “I feel the more endurance I have, the better tennis player I am. I can then run and be a defensive player when I need to.”
The purpose: If she can has a bottomless tank, then she can match her opponents on the tennis court. They tire out, she doesn’t — it’s simple.
But it’s not.
There’s so much that goes on in a single match, which forces Egan to find ways to improve beyond just build up her stamina.
“I always try to do rallies and be more consistent. If I don’t have my dad (Chris) out with me, I’ll hit serves to try to get my serve better,” Egan said. “My serve has definitely gotten more powerful.”
It’s a serve Egan hopes she can show off come state, and if this freshman reaches that point come May, it would have completed the trifecta of reaching state in all three of her first seasons. What a year it would be for Egan.
“It’s been a really good year so far,” she said with a laugh.