MT. WASHINGTON – The fact that McNicholas freshman Kay Daly was homeschooled up until she was enrolled at McNicholas isn’t the most unique aspect of her life.
That distinction might belong to her being the only freshman to handle the No. 1 singles role in coach Kathy Tyler’s tenure.
“I’ve never had it happen,” the coach said. “And it’s not a judgment call either. It’s quite clear she’s the best on the team. We’re just glad she picked McNick. She loves it. We love her.”
Of course, there was an initial period of getting used to the new environment and meeting new people, which Daly said was the biggest difference between homeschool and regular schooling.
The tennis team was quick to embrace its newest teammate and didn’t know Daly was a freshman until she hit them with the knowledge.
Being a member of the team has made Daly’s transition easier.
“It took two weeks to get to that level, but they’re very nice and we’ve become friends,” Daly said. “It’s gone pretty well. I haven’t played my best but I am having fun.”
Daly’s 8-1 record as of Sept. 15 might say otherwise. Her only loss of the season, to that point, came in the match against Carroll. Overall, the team picked her up and ended up winning the match.
Tyler said the loss didn’t affect Daly much and that she took what she needed from that match.
Tennis isn’t much different from other sports in terms of the mental aspect. Players can’t get too hyped about successes and can’t get too down about mistakes.
According to her coach, Daly is an even-tempered, positive player.
“She’s not a tennis princess,” Tyler said. “She isn’t going to go out there and play mind games with the opponent. She’s had players do that to her but she’s very aware of it and knows how to handle it.”
When teammates see other players, like Daly, playing at a high level, it can have the effect of them wanting to improve their games.
Tyler believes it’s possible that is happening with her team.
With sectionals starting Sept. 28, Tyler said she’s had other coaches tell her Kay has a good chance to qualify for the state tournament in October, something McNick has not had in eight years.
“I hope I qualify for state,” Daly said. “I think that’d be pretty cool for it being the first time in eight years.”