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Left to right: Katherine Ake ’17, Elizabeth Manlick ’17, Ashley Randazzo ’17 and Anna Gosz ’17

Senior Quartet Drives Tennis Successes

Four years ago at tryouts for the St. Norbert College women’s tennis team, Paul Miller (Athletics) knew something good was coming. He did not know how good.

“I could see with the freshmen that came in that we could really step up our game,” says Miller, who co-coaches the team with his wife, Carrie Miller. “We had a goal of winning a conference championship and making the NCAAs.” Thanks to four women from those tryouts – Elizabeth Manlick ’17, Ashley Randazzo ’17, Anna Gosz ’17 and Katherine Ake ’17 – those goals – and more – were achieved. And, as each player improved her game, they formed friendships and lasting bonds.

“I never imagined the success we have had,” says Randazzo, a business major. “When I came to that tryout, I didn’t even know if I would make the team.”

This spring, the team advanced to the NCAA Division III women’s tournament for the second time in three years. The Green Knights also won the Midwest Conference title in the fall of 2014.

Manlick, a biology major, says the deep St. Norbert tennis team made her become a better player. “You are pushed everyday in practice and that helps you improve,” she says. “We are like one big family.”

Between practices and matches, the players spend a lot of time together. Fortunately, the women discovered they had a lot in common. Ake, Gosz and Randazzo even wound up living together.

“Tennis takes a lot of time and it was great to live with people who understand that and the balance you need to create between the sport and your studies,” says Gosz, a biology major. “Tennis is demanding. You practice for two hours every night and you spend your weekends during the season at matches.”

“But it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had a blast,” Randazzo adds.

Ake, a biology major, says balancing school with tennis is definitely a challenge, but that the four counted on each other along the way. “You also have to be really good with time management,” she laughed. “There’s no time for extraneous stuff.” Ake, a seven-time Dean’s List student, has been named to the CoSIDA At-Large Academic All-District VI team for the second consecutive year.

Despite all the time together, Randazzo says the players “haven’t got sick of each other.” Manlick adds, “it’s very special what we have.”

Carrie Miller is impressed how all four players developed during their time at St. Norbert: “They are currently our 1-4 single players and all four are in the doubles lineup. Two of them were not even in the singles lineup as freshmen, but their growth as players made that possible. And everyone saw their winning percentages increase.”

During the players’ freshman year, the team took a trip over spring break where they had an opportunity to play a lot of tennis against other schools, which expanded their experience.

Randazzo says, “As we play more matches, we have definitely improved. It has helped to play teams outside of our conference.”

Now, the St. Norbert team is gathering more attention from other schools interested in playing them. Paul Miller says, “It is nice to have other teams call us wanting to play instead of always the other way around. Our mindset has definitely changed about what teams we can play.”

While the players are sad their run at St. Norbert is over, it is something they will not forget. “I am excited for life after graduation, but I am also sad to see this time end,” Ake says. “I know we will stay in touch.”


July 1, 2017