There’s a social stigma around the number 100 that makes it so substantial. Turning 100 years old, scoring 100 points on a test, publishing 100 issues of a comic. The number 100 is something people strive for around the world. On September 14, senior Caroline McCall not only surpassed 100 wins in her high school tennis career, but set a new record for Bryan High.
“I reached my 100th win at a home match against Ellison,” Caroline said. “It actually started raining during my match, and my coach was about to call everything off. He came over to the speaker to tell us to clear off the courts, and that was at the exact moment I won the last point of the match.”
Caroline practiced tennis for hours every day to reach this goal; she worked long, hard days on the hot tennis courts.
“Getting my 100th win meant that all the grueling practices have paid off,” Caroline said. “All the late nights, hot days, sore feet, hurting legs, and heavy arms have strengthened me. It makes the losses I’ve gathered up seem so much more valuable. Above all else, it means my time wasn’t wasted on getting anything less than the results and success I expect from myself.”
Tennis coach Jordan Kazmierski has been coaching at Bryan High for four years and has watched Caroline develop as a player over her entire high school career.
“Caroline is a really hard worker,” Kazmierski said. “She has been since her freshman year, which was my first year here. From that first day, her work ethic really stood out. She works really hard, she puts in extra time, and she’s really dedicated to improving her game.”
Kazmierski teaches students in the tennis program that they’re valued, that they have a space and a family in the tennis program, and that their hard work will pay dividends, alongside other values a tennis player needs.
“I think players have to have composure, mental toughness, and a supreme work ethic,” Kazmierski said. “With mental toughness, it’s a game where it’s you and your opponent. There is no one else to pass the ball to in the fourth quarter for somebody else to shoot it with seconds on the clock, it’s just you. So when things don’t go your way you have to be able to battle. If you put in the work when a game is on the line, your body knows what to do. That’s why I think Caroline not only succeeds, but excels.”
Caroline enjoys the mental challenges of tennis, and knows that if she isn’t completely focused on the game, she will make mistakes.
“I like that you have to be strong, but it’s also a mental game,” Caroline said. “I would say 85-90 percent of tennis is mental. Don’t get me wrong, you have to be physically fit to be good at tennis, but mentally you have to be able to play the game. Something that I didn’t really get down until last spring was not letting the crowd or people around you influence my game.”
Last year, Caroline and her doubles partner, junior Teresa Starnes, earned the title of district champions, and finished in the top 32 girls doubles teams in the state for 6A. They made it to the Elite 8 of their region, and earned medals at every tournament they attended, most of which were gold.
“Caroline knows when to get down to business and how to get things done,” Teresa said. “She was really serious about winning. We both were. We pushed each other really hard to do better, which is why last year we got so far.”
Above everything else, Teresa sees Caroline as an inspiration and a role model.
“She’s a really good leader,” Teresa said. “She knows how to run a team, how to organize things, how to get things done, and what to prioritize. She’s encouraging, funny, and overall a very positive person, which is very appreciated.”
Younger players look up to Caroline, as they recognize her skills on and off the court.
“She definitely shows how to be responsible for everything you do,” sophomore Kambrie Bomnskie said. “She’s one of the most respected people on the team because she takes responsibility for everything she does.”
Caroline recognizes tennis as a lifetime sport, and, as someone who plans to take tennis with her to old age, she’s grateful for her coaches who have trained her and built her up to be the tennis player she is now.
“Both Coach Kaz and Coach Grant have been awesome coaches,” Caroline said. “One of the first big turnarounds we had was a match against The Woodlands at Bryan High. We lost the first set 1-6. It was bad. We ended up coming back, though, after Coach Grant told us to just have fun. We ended up winning first place in that tournament which was really exciting.”
Kazmierski recognizes Caroline’s ability to stay positive when things don’t go her way, and uses losses as ways to learn.
“Anyone could learn the value of hard work from Caroline for sure,” Kazmierski said. “She is somebody who’s always willing to go the extra mile to put in the work. She’s one of those people who believes that failure is not an option, because she will outwork failure.”
Though Caroline has already achieved success in her goals, she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. Even after reaching her 100th win, she’s pushing toward her 150th as she continues to develop as a player.
“My goals for this next season are to finish off strong,” Caroline said. “This year, I feel like a wiser player and a little calmer when I get into my matches than I have in past years. I’m looking to hit aces and play with more strategy than ever.”