Forehanding Freshman

Freshman shares her experience being the only ninth grader on varsity tennis team


Photo by Grace Edgeworth

Freshman Macie Snyder returns the ball during tennis practice on Oct. 30. The tennis season ended on Oct. 20 with a game against Lewisville, and will start up again late next semester.

Walking with her mom while shopping, freshman Macie Snyder’s phone dings. She grabs it out of her pocket to find the roster for the tennis team this season, with her name next to varsity. She is excited and nervous, realizing she would be the youngest on the team by far.

Snyder was placed on the varsity tennis team this fall and is the only freshman on the team. Macie has been taking tennis lessons since she was in elementary school, and also played for the Arbor Creek team for two years. 

“I think middle school tennis prepared me for varsity pretty well,” Macie said. “It also helped that I had taken lessons with some of the varsity people [in] the past and had gotten to play up to their level.”

Macie’s mom, Suzette Snyder, said the whole family plays tennis together, including Macie’s older brother junior Sam Snyder, who is currently on the varsity team with Macie.

“Playing with her older siblings really prepared her,” Suzette said. “They never took it easy on her, so she’s a really strong player for her age. It definitely helps that her brother’s around.”

Tennis coach CJ Cowgill has known Macie since she started lessons in elementary school, and says Macie has improved in her skill level and confidence since she started on the team. 

“Macie has always been very mature for her age,” Cowgill said. “She always carried herself with a very calm demeanor. Her coming to high school has been awesome because she’s now able to practice and be around people that can push her and challenge her on a daily basis.”

Cowgill said varsity coaching deals more with mindset, approach and strategy, as opposed to the junior varsity team, which consists more of building skills. Students who are playing on varsity have a good understanding of the fundamentals.

“Macie playing varsity wasn’t a choice I had to make,” Cowgill said. “Her play made the decision for itself. She is one of the top girls we have in the school.”

COVID-19 has changed how this season has progressed so far. There is usually a summer camp for incoming freshmen that Macie was unable to attend. Macie said this season was stressful at first, since she also had to adjust to her first year of high school, but she has gotten used to it and now looks forward to practicing with the team.

“COVID-19 has changed a lot of the practices and matches,” Macie said. “This season we had fewer matches than usual and practices have had to be more cautious, but we still have a great time with it.”

Suzette said it can be tough for the youngest child to get her share of the spotlight, especially when her two older siblings play the same sport.

“I’m proud of Macie for excelling with her own approach to the game,” Suzette said. “She’s a good teammate, she has great sportsmanship, she’s humble and she’s super tough. It takes guts to go out there and play with older kids and go up against teams like Plano West and Marcus. She’s been brave and, as a bonus, she’s won a lot of matches.”