Attending Notre Dame to play tennis wasn't a decision for Arkansas City graduate Kali Krisik. It was destiny.
The Irish are coached by Jay Louderback, the former Wichita State coach and Krisik's uncle. Krisik's mother, Jan, played for Louderback at WSU and her cousin, Bailey Louderback, also played at Notre Dame.
Now a senior, Krisik says playing at her dream school is everything she expected.
"It's an amazing experience," Krisik said. "Playing for my uncle is great. When I was younger, my grandpa was my coach and my mom was my high school coach, so it's kind of been in the family. It's neat to have the tradition and the family connection."
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Krisik won Class 5A singles titles at Ark City in 2002 and 2003. Though she was the lowest-ranked member of Notre Dame's 2006 recruiting class, she has made her mark with the Irish. She concluded the fall portion of the schedule this week finishing second in doubles and losing in the Round of 16 in singles at the Midwest Regional for the national indoor championships in Evanston, Ill.
Her career records are 78-22 in singles and 105-33 in doubles.
Notre Dame was eliminated from the NCAA championship in the semifinals last spring by California, but Krisik and Cosmina Ciobanu won their doubles match against the Bears. Krisik was a doubles specialist before attending Notre Dame and has refined her skills.
"I was always pretty good in doubles," Krisik said. "But the (Notre Dame coaches) have helped me a lot with positioning on the court and movement. When I was younger I was always better at doubles, but they've also helped me have confidence in my singles game."
Krisik played the early part of last season at No. 3 singles and struggled, losing four consecutive matches at one point. After being moved down, mostly in the Nos. 5 and 6 positions, she thrived, winning 15 of her final 18 matches.
Though the season won't be over for more than seven months, Krisik is looking ahead. She said her time at Notre Dame has gone by quickly and she isn't ready to give up her sport.
"I'm realizing that I'm really going to miss tennis," Krisik said. "I'm trying to find ways to stick around the game and be there, whether it's coaching somewhere or doing something with a league or just hitting in my spare time. I want to stay around tennis, because now that I'm getting ready to graduate it's like tennis has been such a huge part of my life and I don't want it to end yet."