Switcheroo for two seniors

SPORTSBEAT
Dave Boehler • REVIEW SPORTS EDITOR

When I was a teenager, the best decision of my life was still years and years away.

It’s already happened for Howards Grove seniors Cassidy Kahl and Caity Schmid, who say switching from volleyball to tennis this season is the best thing that has happened to them so far.

“If I would’ve had the opportunity before, I would’ve quit volleyball a long time ago,” Kahl said. “I’m kind of sad I never had the opportunity.”

There was never the opportunity for tennis at Howards Grove until this season, when the school asked Elkhart Lake- Glenbeulah to form a co-op team for the first time.

“I just enjoy it a lot more,” said Schmid, the daughter of Tigers’ football coach and athletic director, Dave Schmid. “It’s a new experience for me. I guess I didn’t expect it to be this fun. It’s turned out a lot better.”

After three years in the successful volleyball program, including last season on varsity, Kahl and Schmid found out last spring that tennis was coming to Howards Grove.
CASSIDY KAHL (left) CAITY SCHMID (right) CASSIDY KAHL (left) CAITY SCHMID (right)

I asked Kahl, who competed in volleyball since seventh grade, when was the last time she played tennis.

“I’ve never stepped foot on a tennis court,” she said.

Of course any decent journalist knows what to ask next: So, Cassidy, did you even have any tennis equipment?

Nope.

At least Schmid had some rackets.

“She had some sitting in her garage so we went out to see if we really liked it enough to play,” Kahl said. “Once I realized how much I liked it, I went out and bought a racket the day before practice started.”

Schmid had played volleyball since the fourth grade. Although she did not compete on any tennis teams until now, she at least had stepped on a court before to play with her family.

For adults, I think the older you get the harder it is to change. How many times have we mulled over different jobs, places to live, relationships, etc? So often it’s just easier to remain status quo or go with the flow because of the fear of the unknown.

“I wasn’t as nervous because I knew that it wasn’t something that was new for just me,” Kahl said. “Everybody was going to be putting themselves out there and trying some- thing new.

“I was never like a star volleyball player and I didn’t see much playing time for me my senior year, so I figured tennis was something new and something I’d never done before. And it’s something nobody else has done before at my school, so I saw it as an opportunity to go out and try something I’d never done.”

Coach Elizabeth Hill says Schmid’s strength is her ground strokes, and she is really good in her return game and playing in the back half of the court. Hill feels Kahl is really aggressive and wants to be at the front of the net.

And not only are the two best friends, but they also are doubles partners.

“It definitely was not intentional, it was just when we got to playing and seeing the chemistry that they do have together and the skills they were developing together, I knew they would work really well,” she said. “I think they understand from volleyball that you have to communicate and you have to work together, and so they do that on the court. It kind of came automatic to them. More so they had to learn the strategies that were involved in tennis that are different than volleyball. But they were open to it and understand from the game of volleyball that tennis has its own things of what works and what doesn't.”

Winning has been working, as the No. 2 doubles team won three of its first four Big East Conference matches.

Kahl admitted, however, she did not expect things to be going so well.

“I think since we’ve played volleyball together, it made it easier for us to be doubles partners because tennis and volleyball, you have to communicate a lot,” she said. “We’ve also been learning as we go. Tennis is just one of those sports you can see improvement as you go, like really fast. Whereas other sports, it might take awhile it seemed like. We just got the hang of it.”

Schmid was honest, too, saying they went out with thoughts of having fun and trying their best.

“But now as the season goes on, we’re kind of upping our expectations and want more wins for ourselves,” she said.


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