ODA Girl’s Tennis Does it Again: State Champs!

Hailey Schlotthauer, Staff Writer



While ODA athletics are small, something our school has been known for is our outstanding tennis players. Especially the girls. For the past six years, there has always one ODA female athlete who has brought home a state championship title in tennis, starting with Caroline Daily in 8th grade. After Caroline it was Maria Ross in 8th grade, then Balia Bangoura in 9th grade, and this year the newest, youngest prodigy is Sydney Sforzo who is in 8th grade.

We see her every morning for announcements, and we all saw her sign to the University of Nebraska, but what does tennis really mean to Balia?

How does tennis play into your personal life?

Balia Bangoura, senior, thinks tennis makes her who she is. “I can’t remember a time without tennis. I have to make a lot of sacrifices and miss out on somethings, but there is a balance there so it’s fine.”

How does tennis affect who you are as a person?

“It affects me because it teaches discipline.  I know I have to work hard and I cannot afford to slack because I know there are always other people are out there training and getting better. Tennis is a mental game. It’s a game without a buzzer, so really it is all on you to have the comeback you need and I think that aspect of the game has affected who I am as a person the most. It’s real easy to be hard on yourself, and most of the times we all are our own toughest critics, but I have learned from tennis that having hope is the way to go.”

What does winning a title like that mean to you?

It means a lot because I’ve worked really hard and a lot of people were expecting me to win states again so I felt like I needed to not only because of other people’s expectations but mine as well

Do you feel like you have received support from the school/student body?

“While I make jokes about it at morning assembly, I don’t think I receive the support from the student body. Tennis isn’t football, but it definitely isn’t boring to watch. Especially at the level Sydney and I are at. It’s annoying and I wish it would change.”


Tennis is a very unique sport, it’s one of the very few that is solely dependent on the single athlete and not based on a team. Which in the long run means more hours practicing. If you have never played tennis, you can’t understand the will power this sport requires. It’s 7 days a week, several hours a day, not to mention the Florida heat doesn’t exactly make this any easier. And you are doing it all on your own. There’s no team, no friends playing right by your side. Everyone on the court is your competitor.

Knowing the difference of how intense tennis is or not, we all know how significant it is to make it to the state championship round. We all were aware Balia and Sydney made it to the finals. We all assumed they would win. So why didn’t we go?

How many of you can actually say you went out and watched one tennis match this year? How many of you can say you went out and watched a football game this year? Be honest. It’s true, there is a crowd always watching at our home football games, even though their record is never impressive. Yet our girls tennis, notorious for surpassing all of their competitors, hardly gets support from anyone other than their parents.

The truth could be the timing. Fall semester could be the most exciting semester. The very beginning of the school year is always fun, new, and exciting. We are refreshed from a three-month break, and those Friday night lights are an experience. By spring, we all are exhausted, distracted, overwhelmed. Our spring athletes, however, are balancing winning state championship titles, and the workload of the dreadful spring semester.

How do we change this? Next year try to get a group of friends to go watch track, tennis, or lacrosse! A popular concern is that there is only a crowd at the boys events. So if you plan on coming to the boys lacrosse game, make an effort to go see our girls. Same goes with tennis!

All of our athletes work extremely hard and should be appreciated equally! And one more huge congratulations to Balia and Sydney on their titles!