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Mental game Ye’s strength

Published: Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
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Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com Sophomore Angelina Ye practices at Sycamore High School on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013.

Sycamore’s Angelina Ye remembers well the weather issues at last year’s IHSA state tennis tournament.

Rain came down on the first two days of the tournament, forcing schedule rearrangements and site changes. But Ye used it as a positive.

“We had a rain delay last year and it was tough trying to stay focused for that long,” Ye said. “It definitely gave me a competitive advantage than some of the other girls just being a mentally stronger player than they were.”

Now a sophomore, Ye finished an undefeated regular season in which she didn’t lose a set. She won her second straight sectional championship with a three-set win over Geneva’s Kirby Einck.

“Her game is more consistent. She goes straight sets with everybody but that last match at the sectional, which is really impressive,” Sycamore coach Dave Hillmer said. “That’s hard to do, especially when you’re younger.”

Last year, Ye wasn’t ranked heading into the state meet, meaning she faced a tougher draw in the early rounds. Still, Ye won her first three matches before falling to eventual state champion Keisha Clousing in the fourth round and finishied the tournament 4-2.

This year Ye was given a 9-16 seed and won’t face a higher seed until at least the fourth round. She will face De La Salle’s Khalia Powell in the first round at Palatine.

Over the past year, Ye says she’s become a more aggressive player.

“I definitely come to the net a lot more than I used to,” Ye said. “My coaches and I have definitely been working on dictating the points more and being in control of what’s happening.”

To keep her focus during a season that often saw Ye winning two-set matches without losing a game, Hillmer put Ye in different practice situations and create pressure and competition by introducing games within games.

Although last year’s Sycamore team featured a number of seniors, the 2013 squad was younger, the varsity lineup mostly filled with sophomores. Hillmer said Ye took on more of a leadership role this season, occasionally teaching the freshmen.

“Both years we were all really close and we were all like family,” Ye said. “It’s definitely a lot easier having more kids my age. Talking about the same people, the same grade level and I like it.”

Ye said she has goals of improving on last year’s performance and getting a medal, something no Sycamore tennis player has done.

Although the latest forecast wasn’t call for precipitation, Ye will be prepared no matter what the weather is.

“[Tuesday] it was snowing,” Ye said, “so it will probably happen again.”

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