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Auburn's Lauren Thornquist looks to lead Trojans | Prep girls tennis
It's hard to top perfection.
Last year Lauren Thornquist, Auburn's No. 1 girls tennis singles player, was perfect through the regular season, compiling an undefeated 9-0 record and driving the Trojan girls to an undefeated team record and a South Puget Sound League Central 4A title.
In the postseason, Thornquist, the No. 3 seed out of the SPSL 4A tourney, placed sixth at the West Central District tournament, earning a spot at the Washington State 4A Tennis championships, where she finished in the top-eight.
This year, however, Thornquist is even better, according to Auburn coach Crystal Wisness.
"She really has some experience under her belt now," Wisness said. "She's a lot better. Way more confidence. More power. She's just got a tennis mind. It's fun to watch, you can just see her setting up shots. She'll be in a nice rally and get to some tough balls, then all of sudden just crank it up and put it away. It's really fun to watch her."
Thornquist credits her improvement to the offseason work she did at the Boeing Employees' Tennis Club and the Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club.
"I feel like I'm thinking more strategically than I did last year," Thornquist said. "And I think I prepared more for the season than I did last year. I've been playing more year round this last year and working more on conditioning and getting in better shape for playing long points."
In addition to her maturation on the court, Thornquist is also committed to stepping up to a team leadership role, even though she is only a sophomore.
"I feel like I can help some of the girls," Thornquist said. "We lost most of our team from last year, so I feel like they can come to me and I can help them figure out what to do in a certain situation. Even though Karen (Wentzke) is the captain this year, and she does a really good job, I'm always there too. And Karen helps me and I help her."
Wisness added that, although Thornquist's not an official captain, her on-court performance inspires the Trojans.
"She makes them all work harder," she said. "Her strokes are good and her footwork is beautiful. And they all practice against her, and they want to step up."
Another sign of Thornquist's maturation is her attitude for dealing with the pressure of following up her undefeated freshman season.
"I just try to go with each match and do my best," she said. "If I feel like I've put as much effort as I can into each match then I can't really be disappointed with how it turns out. My No. 1 goal is to make it to state, and hopefully place. But I'll just go match by match and put forth as much effort as I can."
Come the end of the season, however, Wisness admitted that she expects Thornquist to be on top of the SPSL Central heap.
"I think she'll be seeded No. 1 into the SPSL tournament," Wisness said. "I'm pretty sure we'll be heading back to state with her this year."
ALSO: In addition to Thornquist's return, the Auburn girls return senior captain Wentzke, as well as juniors Sydney Johnson and Aly Siemion.
Last season Wentzke and her doubles partner, Peyton Prothero, just missed out on a state berth, failing to move out of the district meet, partially due to Wentzke's lingering knee injury.
This season Prothero is gone to graduation, but Wentzke is back completely healthy and teamed up with Johnson at the No. 1 singles spot.
"She's really done a good job," Wisness said. "She just works hard, comes out every day and motivates the team. Losing Peyton Prothero was tough though. They played two seasons together and went to state two years ago."
In addition to their returners, the Trojans also boast a strong core of newcomers, including Gabby Lane, who plays No. 2 doubles with Siemion.
"She (Lane) hasn't played for me yet. Although she's a junior, she kind of came from out of nowhere," Wisness said. "So that's kind of nice to have a strong No. 2 doubles player come from out of thin air."
Now Wisness hopes that her team can cultivate enough court time and chemistry to challenge for the SPSL Central 4A title.
"We haven't had enough practice on the court because of the rain, so they haven't been able to find that team chemistry yet," Wisness said. "But they work really hard. A couple of the doubles teams haven't found their number yet, but we're working on that. We're trying to get them to find their strength."
Thornquist is confident that the team's hard work will payoff.
"I think they're doing really good so far, especially with most of them having just played JV or being freshman," she said. "They've really been able to become accustomed to how to play these matches. They're not used to being at this level yet, but I feel like they've risen to the challenge."