Goddard senior Sydney LeFevre aspires to go into psychology.
From the looks of her success on the tennis court, she’s already putting those principles to practical use.
“I’ve always believed that the mental part of tennis – or any sport, actually – is the most important and the most significant part of tennis,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been able to use that to my advantage, and that’s definitely one of my strengths.
“Sports have helped me with a lot of things, not just psychology things, but normal life lessons that I think everyone should learn.”
LeFevre, a senior, won the singles championship at Monday’s AVCTL Division II meet in what she called the best victory of her high school career.
Her 7-5, 6-4 victory in the final over Andover Central’s Libuse Cermakova will give her some momentum as she heads into Saturday’s Class 5A regional. Cermakova, a foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic, was the top seed.
“It was probably one of the hardest matches that I’ve played, and it was very mentally challenging,” LeFevre said. “I stepped off the court feeling very accomplished.
“If a freshman Sydney or even a junior Sydney had played that match, I would have gotten destroyed. Just to see how far I’ve gone physically and mentally was definitely rewarding.”
Goddard coach Bryce McClung agreed.
“It was a great match,” he said. “She has matured a lot, even in one year. She has definitely gained power, but also patience. She knows when to do what she has to do.”
The good news is the regional is on the Lions’ home courts, because of defending 5A champion Arkansas City being reclassified to 4A and losing the regional site.
The bad news is that even without Ark City, the singles field is stacked with some very talented tennis players.
At the top of the list are Bishop Carroll junior Britttany Steven and Kapaun Mount Carmel freshman Clara Whittaker. Whittaker beat Steven last Saturday for the City League title.
LeFevre, who was sixth at state a year ago, said she just wants to finish as strongly as possible.
“I’m just looking to continue having qualified for state since freshman year,” she said. “I’m looking to improve my seed and get the best seed for state that I can.”
Her senior year has brought maturity to her game, resulting in a 23-6 record.
“She got either first or second and got above her seed in every tournament,” McClung said.
It has been a trial by fire for LeFevre since her freshman year, she said.
“When I was a freshman, I was thrust into the No. 1 singles spot on varsity,” LeFevre said. “So I had to learn very quickly how to mentally prepare myself better.
“I think my mental game has gotten a lot stronger, and I’m also able to hit more powerfully sometimes when I need to.”
LeFevre, who seriously took up the sport in sixth grade, comes by her tennis talent naturally. Her father, Chris, is the tennis coach at Goddard Middle School.
“My dad kind of forced me to play; I didn’t want to at first,” she said.
For the most part, when a tennis talent emerges, the sport becomes his or her sole focus. But not LeFevre.
Even though she hasn’t chosen a college for next year, she said she plans to cut back on tennis and do it recreationally.
“I’m not as committed as I would have to be if I were to play at the collegiate level,” she said. “I also don’t go to a lot of USTA events, and many collegiate coaches are looking for those players.
“It’s most likely not going to be too prominent in my post-high school career.”