Collinsville sophomores excel as doubles partners
October 18, 2012By Chris Kusnerick of Collinsville High School
When it comes to girls tennis, Collinsville isn't exactly a perennial power. But Olivia Scaturro and Maddie Swiecicki are doing their best to get the Kahoks some attention.
Heading into last weekend's Belleville West Sectional, the sophomore duo had posted an 11-4 record at No. 1 doubles. The girls didn't qualify for this weekend's state tournament in suburban Chicago, but coach Emma Houshand is anxious to see what they can accomplish the next two years.
"I didn't put them together at the beginning of the season - I think they missed the first two or three matches - but then I paired them up and ever since they've been really good," Houshmand said. "They're young and the inexperience shows at times, but tennis is a mental game and if we can get them over those hurdles, they'll be even better.
"I was hoping that they could get that experience at state this season - I don't know if Collinsville has ever gone except maybe years ago - but I believe they'll get there next year."
For the most part, Scaturro and Swiecicki have similar styles of play.
"Olivia is a little better net player and Maddie might be a little better at the baseline, but in the back they're both very comparable," Houshmand said.
The girls weren't sure what to expect coming into this season, but once they were paired together, their chemistry was evident.
"At first I was kind of concerned because I had Haley (Grueber, a 2012 graduate) as my doubles partner last year and we had a great season," Scaturro said. "But this year has been just as great and we've matched well together. We communicate well and we both have the mind set just to win."
"Olivia has a really good backhand and I have a good forehand, so we blend well together," Swiecicki said.
Swiecicki started playing tennis with her father at age 4.
"I've played a couple tournaments, but it's mostly been just playing on my own," said Swiecicki, who is playing No. 2 singles this season. "I knew high school tennis was going to be a lot harder. It was tough playing varsity as a freshman, but I was happy to get the opportunity.
"It's harder this year because I'm playing higher in the lineup, but I think my overall game is a lot better."
Scaturro, meanwhile, started playing at age 7 at St. Clair Tennis Club in O'Fallon.
"I did some tournaments there and I did some tournaments last year for Gateway (Tennis Association)," Scaturro said. "I'm pretty sure both of us are going to play some tournaments this winter. Last year we played one or two times a week, but this year we're really going to step it up and go full throttle. We want to improve a lot."
As the No. 1 singles player for the Kahoks, Scaturro faces a who's who of the area's best players.
"I came to the summer camps the two years before my freshman season and I made friends with the three senior girls (from last year)," Scaturro said. "They prepared me a lot during the summer. They made me lose, but it made me work harder to try to beat them during the season.
"My serve has definitely improved. One of my coaches last winter told some new tips and completely changed it and it's twice as hard as it was last year.
"Playing No. 1 singles is tough. I have to keep the mind set of 'I'm going to lose some,' but each year I'm going to get stronger and I'm going to come back as a better player."
The girls are anxious to see what they can accomplish in the next two years.
"We just need to play more matches together," Swiecicki said. "Every day in practice, we're working on our weaknesses and trying to get better."