Photo by Theo Tate
Granite City senior Bailee Warsing serves the ball in her No. 1 singles match with Triad’s Kylie McCarthy on Sept. 1.
Granite City senior Bailee Warsing had reason to smile when she stepped onto Court No. 1 of the Triad High School tennis courts Sept. 1.
Warsing not only was playing her first match as a senior, she also was playing her first match as a No. 1 singles player.
“I’m really excited for the year,” Warsing said.
Warsing has come a long way from her freshman year, when she joined the Granite City girls’ tennis team.
“I started playing in my freshman year and I was No. 23 out of 24 (on the team),” Warsing said. “It was surprising.”
This year, Warsing is playing in her third varsity season. She’s one of seven seniors on the team.
“I really love the game and it’s nice to come out here and play,” Warsing said. “I like helping out the new girls who joined the team this year and I think in the years following this, we’ll have a really good team.”
Warsing said Granite City coach Linda Ames has been a big help to her throughout her high school tennis career.
“I definitely like to thank Mrs. Ames for all of this because she puts in so many hours and she has so many other things going on, but she makes tennis a huge priority,” said Warsing, who ranks sixth in her class with a 5.490 grade point average and is the president of the National Honor Society. “I really appreciate that. I know everybody else on the team does, too.”
Tennis is the only sport Warsing plays. She became interested in the sport while she was a student at Grigsby Middle School.
“It’s exciting,” Warsing said. “I really like helping other kids learning how to play tennis and talking to people about tennis because it’s a really good sport. They call it the best sport you never played.”
But in her freshman year at GCHS, Warsing found out that tennis wasn’t an easy sport to play.
“I think I won one match in my freshman year and that was against the girl who was No. 24 on the team,” Warsing said.
Then, Warsing got some help from Ames and the Belleville West coaching staff.
“She (Ames) encourages me a lot and she helps me find classes to help me become a better player. She spends a lot of hours working with me and improving all of my skills,” Warsing said. “I took a class with the Belleville West tennis team with coaches Bob Keefe and Jenny Mennerick. Basically, they help improve on skills and they brought in players who have been playing for a while. It’s just like extra practice during the winter.”
As a sophomore, Warsing played her first varsity season that was cut short due to an injury.
“I was playing No. 4 and halfway through the season, I got hurt,” Warsing said. “I hurt my back and I was neglecting it and I thought it will be fine. It kept getting worse and worse and I went to the doctor and he was like, ‘oh, man, you can’t play.’ So I was out the rest of my sophomore year.”
The next year, Warsing moved up to No. 2 singles and enjoyed an injury-free junior season. She also earned her biggest honor of her tennis career as she picked up a third-team all-Southwestern Conference award in singles.
“Part of it has to do with the other coaches in the Southwestern Conference recognizing her ability and she’s a good player and she’s a fair consistent player,” Ames said. “That’s why she gets those things because she gets noticed about her demeanor and her sportsmanship and her attitude. All of those things go into it and she’s a good solid player.”
Warsing was one of two Granite City players on the all-league team last fall. The other was Amy Guo, who graduated in May.
“That was really exciting,” Warsing said. “I had no idea I was getting it until I was at the awards (ceremony).”
This fall, Warsing is leading a Granite City team that has three other seniors — Mikayla Kingsley, Dani Magana and Kayla Myers — in its starting lineup. The Warriors, who won five matches last year, began their season on Sept. 1 with a 9-0 loss to Triad.
“Mrs. Ames has put in a lot of work in making this team in where it is now,” Warsing said. “I think all of that is going to pay off this season.”
Warsing didn’t celebrate a victory in her No. 1 singles debut at Triad. She fell to Triad’s Kylie McCarthy in two sets. Warsing also lost a match against O’Fallon the next day at home.
Ames said she’s confident that Warsing will shine at No. 1 singles this fall despite the slow start.
“She’s a phenomenal young lady,” the Granite City coach said. “She’s incredibly intelligent and she does everything at Granite City High School. She’s a great leader for the underclassmen and the role model that she sets both on and off the court. She works so hard. She’s gotten so much better and she stepped up. The No. 1 position is tough to play because you’re going to run into some real horses in the No. 1 spot on all teams everywhere in and out of the Southwestern Conference. So she has a tough road ahead of her, but she smiles through everything because that’s what she does and she’ll have a good season. It may not come up heavy on the win side, but she’ll have a successful season.”