Whoever happens to take the court opposite Keisha Clousing during this weekend’s girls state tennis tournament should be forewarned.
The sophomore has taken her game to another level since finishing runner-up at state last October.
“She’s working really hard, and the best part about it, she’s loving the game more this year,” said Patti Clousing, Keisha’s mom and the Wheaton Warrenville South girls tennis coach.
What specifically has Keisha been working on?
“My whole game has developed 10 times more than last year,” she said. “My consistency, my power and my mental focus, too. My mental focus a lot.”
“She’s added a lot of power to her game, and she’s hitting a pro-like ball a lot,” Patti added. “During the off-season, that’s really what she’s been trying to add to her game is a lot of power.”
The results of Keisha’s uptick in play are plain to see. She often breezed through her opposition during the regular season, won the DuPage Valley singles title and added a sectional championship last weekend at Naperville North.
Minus her added power, Keisha still was a formidable foe last year. She took to three sets in a nearly 2 1/2-hour match before falling to the eventual 2010 state champion. Minor has since graduating, leaving Keisha as the favorite to win it all this year.
Keisha, though, is approaching the state tournament with a take-it-as-it-comes mindset.
“It’s pressure, but I think I’m handling it well,” she said. “My teammates are always there and always supporting me with everything.
“I’m basically just looking to play my best this year. I’m not expecting to take first, second, third or fourth. I’m just going in blind again and just playing my best.”
Over the summer, Keisha competed nationally in various tournaments. Last July, she made it to the championship match of the USTA Girls 16 National Clay Court Championships. Then in August, she advanced to the round of 16 at the USTA girls 18-16 national championships in San Diego.
Keisha also is listed among the top 25 recruits in the Class of 2014 by tennisrecruiting.net. According to the site, Clemson and Duke already have a high interest in recruiting Keisha to play at their respective schools.
But this week, her focus is on the state tourney.
“She’s been really looking forward to it,” Patti said. “Keisha is just a really fun kid. She’s a competitor; she’s been a competitor since she’s been able to talk. There isn’t anything at home that she doesn’t want to compete at—to the point where she’ll compete how fast you can roll up your window in your car.
“Everything’s competition. We’re a very athletic-minded family; we play basketball in the back yard and she’ll want to win, even against her older brothers.”