When this Cyclone team ended its season, it was bittersweet. They edged out their opponent for the number two spot at the region tournament, qualifying for nationals, but they witnessed the finale of their tightknit group.
Through every tennis match, all eight Cyclones supported each other on and off the court. At the NJCAA Region IV tournament, while the starting lineup worked the courts, the other two cheered, brought food and drinks, and encouraged their teammates. At one time, three 10-point tiebreakers were happening at the same time. It took a whole team effort to finish runner-up.
"At regions they stepped up. I saw their sportsmanship, character, strength, and it just clicked and came together. They gave it everything they had. Everyone helped," said Head Coach Breanna Vollan, who completed her second year leading the program.
Each position finished in second or third place, handing out some match upsets, to edge out Sauk Valley Community College by .5 points for second overall in the region. During the regular season, sophomore Brooke Zielke (Shepard) remained undefeated at No. 1 singles in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference to complete her final year with the Cyclones. She and fellow sophomore Serene Itani (Shepard), No. 4 singles, will move on next year.
"This season was a good learning experience for everybody in how the players adjusted to me and vice versa, and there was no team drama. There were a lot of personal battles in their individual lives, so I'm proud that for two hours per day, they forgot what was going on and worked at tennis," Vollan said. "They intentionally supported each other. It really shows how college women's sports is a safe haven for them."
Although she was new this season, Ban Alobaidi (Thornton Fractional South) will transfer next year as well. The other five—Julie Andrist (Oak Lawn), Milca Barrera (Eisenhower), Trisha Meyers (Stagg), Libby Newton (Richards) and Olivia Preston (Sandburg)—are expected to return.