DeKALB – Jaci Nguyen isn’t shy about admitting her preference to be a singles player.
Tristan Draper, Nguyen’s doubles partner on DeKalb’s No. 2 doubles pairing, is the same way.
Ultimately the two will make their mark in singles competition. Come postseason time, Nguyen and Draper most likely will be the two Barbs looking to earn a singles spot at the state meet.
In the end, it’s what they want.
“I prefer singles, because I’m better. It’s good to play both I think,” Nguyen said. “Even though I like singles, it sometimes gets boring playing by yourself, and it’s fun playing with Tristan who’s a really good friend.”
Draper said her and Nguyen make a good pairing, even though their main game is singles.
“I think we work really well together. We could communicate better sometimes, but for the most part we work really well together,” Draper said. “We don’t get mad at each other or anything. I like playing [doubles], it’s fun. I just like singles better.”
When talking about Draper and Nguyen, DeKalb coach Duane Cowley sees two players whose game has evolved during their careers. Nguyen, a senior, and Draper, a junior, have added more shots throughout, becoming more deceptive in the process.
Both are aggressive players, and Cowley said it’s all about getting rid of mistakes.
“They both have the skills and the knowledge,” Cowley said. “It’s just consistency and eliminating those mental errors, the unforced errors, is really what we have to work through right now. Maintain skill level and get rid of unforced errors.”
The two players will be key for the 2013 Barbs, a team Cowley wants to see finish with a winning record in dual meets, and be up near the top at invites, since they mimic the postseason.
Other key players for DeKalb include singles players like Maddie McDougall and Rachel Kelly, as well as the No. 1 doubles team of Theresa Nguyen and Kodi Underwood.
As a senior, Underwood is looking towards the state meet at the doubles spot.
“We both want to go to state, do good at sectionals and just do the best that we can and make as little mistakes as possible,” she said.
In May, four singles players and four doubles teams from each sectional advance to the state meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
Cowley thinks there’s a good shot for at least one DeKalb qualifier.
“Like any other competition, you show up and you play, you do the right htings, who knows who’s going to fold. They all know the right things to do and they’ve all done the right things,” Cowley said. “When we go to sectionals I expect someone to go to state, and I would never be surprised if all six (sectional participants) made it.”