Athlete Profile: Caitlynn Gsell
September 27, 2021
Senior Caitlynn Gsell is paving her way on the varsity girls tennis team and is making a name for herself this season. She has been progressively improving over the past few years, quickly becoming a sleeper hit in her field.
Gsell did not achieve her skill level overnight; she put countless hours in to ensure herself as one of the top athletes on the tennis team.
“I started because my brother and I used to play it every so often, just for fun, when he played in high school,” Gsell said. “I decided I might as well join since I already know how to play and everything.”
Gsell’s prior knowledge of the sport made fitting in at the high school level a breeze and allowed her to have a headstart compared to newer athletes in the program.
“I actually started freshman year, so [I’ve played for] four years,” Gsell said.
Gsell has made an immense impact on the team. She plays a much more quiet, leader-type role; she encourages and shows her teammates how to pave the way towards reaching their full potential.
Like every other sport, tennis has faced quite a confusing few years here at Antioch Community High School. COVID-19 has created more time for people to improve their game as best as possible, and athletes have been training in many different ways to prepare for the season. One of the more popular methods is the District 117 tennis camp. The camp is a way for athletes to get comfortable and improve their overall chemistry. This training method has been very effective with the newer athletes and strengthens their bond with one another, which inevitably leads to better performances on the court.
Other athletes like Gsell honed in on specific aspects of their style of play and worked hard to make sure they were at their best for the season.
“I practiced things like serves, forehands and backhands to make sure they were solid for the season,” Gsell said.
Gsell will finally have many chances to show off her newly learned skills this season due to looser COVID-19 restrictions. It allows the team to participate in multiple weekend tournaments and potentially earn medals for their effort, giving them another reason to try their hardest this season.
The chances of success are looking pretty good for the team this season, with plenty of new athletes ready to make a mark on the program, though this may take some time.
“Once the girls become more acclimated to the pace and the style of play, I think we will find ourselves pretty successful,” Coach Jamie D’Andrea said.
There is no doubt that varsity tennis will be a force to be reckoned with this season. With all of these new people on varsity, tennis manager Samuel Sheedy has high hopes. Sheedy is the manager for tennis and has a chance to witness every athlete’s playstyle and identify their improvements.
“I hope to see some of the girls work together and hopefully get towards going towards state,” Sheedy said. “It is something that you always strive for, and there are a couple of people that have some potential this year. I hope to see someone go to state.”
Gsell likes to keep her goals smaller and hopes to beat Lakes in the upcoming tournament and conference matches. She looks forward to showing off her newly-tuned skills during these matches and improving from them as well.
Alongside Gsell in these matches is her doubles partner Elle Ipsen. They have been focusing on their chemistry to ensure that they are a dominant force on the court this season. Pairing them together spells disaster for their opponents with their intense energy and thoughtful decision-making.
While Gsell enjoys tennis, it is not something she intends on pursuing professionally in the future. It has been an impactful portion of her high school career; however, she feels it is time to step down and focus on her education. Tennis has always been more of recreational activity for her to stay active. Even though she may not be playing competitively past the end of this season, she will likely continue to use tennis as a recreational activity for years to come.
Even though her experience with tennis is recreational, that does not mean she has not learned anything from it. Gsell learned core communication and teamwork skills from her time on the tennis team, which has furthered her development in the professional world and has enabled her to prepare for her post-high school experience. Among these skills are teamwork, which is vital in a professional scene and can put her a step ahead of her peers. Collaboration is applicable in any situation and will continue to benefit her in the future.