Photo by Tayhlor Sims
By STEVE PORTER
ROXANA – Sydney Owsley has ample motivation for her next three years of tennis at Roxana High School.
The freshman will be playing for herself and older sister Samantha. Take it from Sydney, there’s no doubt about it.
Sami Owsley, a junior, died in an auto accident Nov. 9 and the Roxana community mourned her death. But she won’t be forgotten and Sydney plans to remember her big sister every time she steps on the court. Sami’s inspiration will live on with Sydney.
“She really helped me a lot,” said Sydney, who teamed with Sami as doubles qualifiers for the IHSA girls tournament. “She gave me pointers on everything.”
The Owsleys, who were South Central Conference champions in doubles and placed fourth in the sectional before going to state, are the AdVantage News’ Co-Prep Tennis Players of the Year.
“At first, I didn’t think we could make it to state,” Sydney said. “But we gave it our best every night and we made it to state. It was a good experience to play at state.”
Shells’ coach Mike Kathriner said he could see the Owsleys developing as a talented team when the season progressed. Thus, he kept them playing together and it worked out in a successful way.
“They began winning in doubles and playing well against their competition,” he said. “The whole season is about the sectional and they came out and played some of their best tennis then.”
Dad Chad Owsley added, “They worked a lot in the off-season with Brooke Tweedy (a former Roxana standout) and that helped them to get better. They’d work three or four times a day in the summer and you could see them improve.”
The sisters encouraged each other but made it spirited enough for genuine competition. Chad Owsley figured that courtside bonding enhanced their skills. They finished the season with a 9-8 record.
“Sydney doesn’t give up,” he said. “She kept pushing Sami and that was good for both of them.”
He pointed out, “Sami was a quiet person – she really was. But she really took a lot of pride in her little sister and seeing her improve. Sami thought that she and Sydney could make it to state as a doubles team, and they did.”
Kathriner beamed about their accomplishments. “We’ve had some good (girls) singles players at Roxana, but I don’t know of any other doubles team that has qualified for state,” he said.
He expects Sydney to play singles next season and possibly remain there during her junior and senior seasons.
That’s fine with Sydney. She’s eager to play again and do it in a meaningful way. She will be dedicating next season – and her career – to Sami.
“Every game and every match I play will be for her,” Sydney said. “She was a big sister to me and always supported me. I really looked up to her a lot.”
Perhaps there will be more dates at state for Sydney Owsley. With plenty of time to progress, she could make her own mark.
“If Sydney continues to improve, there’s no question she could become one of the best players in the area,” Kathriner said. “I know her goal is to go back to state.”
There’s nothing Owsley would like better. It’d be a fitting tribute to her older sister.
“I’ll be playing for her and I’m
going to try and take it as far as I can,”