Miamisburg High School junior Kayla Tuscany beefed up her workout
routine. Her gain has become her opponents’ pain. Tuscany — who placed second in the Division I sectional tournament in
Dayton last week — now looks to muscle her way through the district
field. The tournament starts Thursday at Centerville High School.
Tuscany — who placed second in the Division I sectional tournament in Dayton last week — now looks to muscle her way through the district field. The tournament starts Thursday at Centerville High School. A top-four finish returns Tuscany to state. She went as a freshman in 2005, but admits she became complacent in 2006.
“I think last year I kind of assumed I’d get to state,” said Tuscany, who fell one match shy of Columbus.
Now, with a devastating forehand and excellent conditioning, she hopes to make a state-ment. Tuscany improved her endurance with additional running and increased her power with weight lifting. The results were on display at the sectional meet. Tuscany swept her first three opponents 6-0, 6-0. In the semifinals, she knocked off Centerville junior Whitney Wagner 7-6, 6-1. Though she fell short of the sectional title, Tuscany made Kings senior Safiyya Ismail work for it with a two-hour match that Ismail won 6-3, 6-3.
Ismail and Tuscany could also meet in the district final as they sit in different halves of the bracket. But Tuscany isn’t worrying about a rematch. She’s looking for redemption.
Tuscany, who opens district play with Mount Notre Dame sophomore Kelly Davis, knows how close she came to state last season. She lost to Princeton’s Lindsey Lonergan — now playing at Michigan State University — 7-5, 6-4. That’s the same player Tuscany upset to reach state in 2005. Tuscany keeps telling herself she has another season left to reach state. But like her opponents’ volleys on the court, even Tuscany has trouble getting that past her.
“I feel so nervous. I feel a lot more pressure this year,” Tuscany said. “I want to try and make it perfect. I’m afraid of getting close again and not making it. This time I’m not going to let it slip away.”
Favoring the baseline game, Tuscany features a forehand that’s tough to return. She used it to win the Greater Western Ohio Conference singles title and go undefeated in GWOC regular-season play.
“Her power,” Miamisburg coach Eric Lenski said of Tuscany’s strength. “She has a real big forehand and she uses it well. She has good footwork and can get set up for the forehand stroke.”
Tuscany started playing tennis at age three. By age nine, and after winning some competitive tournaments, she realized the sport could take her places. She practices four or five times a week for about two or three hours on average. That new-found dedication, though, has made her game anything but routine.
“My game right now, I honestly feel like I can do what I want to,” said the confident but not cocky Tuscany. “It depends on who shows up that day.”
This season, opponents have seen more of that player from 2005 as opposed to 2006.
There are days Tuscany would rather relax than return volleys. But she knows she can’t rest if she wants to make another appearance at the Stickney Tennis Center on the campus of Ohio State University.
“Some days (practice) is more fun than others. Some days I go because I know I need to do it to be prepared,” she said. “I feel like there are a lot more expectations on me to do well. I put high expectations on myself, too.”