NORMAN — While it’s very hard to spell Nina Jabrzemski’s name, it is not so hard to recognize her confidence.
Playing No. 1 singles for Norman North on Monday at the Class 6A regional that took place at Will Rogers Tennis Center, the same location that will house the Class 6A girls state tennis tournament beginning today, Jabrzemski was asked if she surprised herself by advancing to state.
“Is it bad to say yes?” she said.
Actually, she finished second at the regional, breezing her way into today’s field, not that she was all that impressed.
“I didn’t play well that day,” Jabrzemski said. “I probably should have got first.”
Welcome to Norman North girls tennis, where one season can change a program.
Part of it is the fact Jabrzemski’s only a freshman, yet far more of it is the fact that of the four girls the Timberwolves have in Oklahoma City today, kicking off the state tourney, three are freshmen and one, Karah Gross, a junior, is not only coming back next season, but should be much better, seeing as how she only started playing tennis less than a year ago.
“I started taking lessons over the summer,” said Gross, who’d previously played volleyball and soccer, “and then I decided to go out for the team.”
There’s Jabrzemski at No. 1 singles, Cassidy Cooper, also a freshman, at No. 2 singles, and Gross and doubles partner Blaine Pryor, also a freshman, playing No. 1 doubles.
“It’s very exciting,” Cooper said.
Exciting because it’s the state tournament. Exciting because they feel like they’re on the ground floor of something. Exciting because not only are they headed to the state tourney, but there are even some expectations attached.
North coach Jamie Wilson, in his fourth season, has sent a couple of doubles teams to the state tourney, yet those tandems didn’t make it to Saturday, which requires winning at least one of two matches on Friday. This is different.