Reys up for three-peat

Senior’s passion for the game comes naturally.
Friday, October 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:52 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Being a four-year starter on a team that has won two consecutive state championships doesn’t leave room for many new accomplishments. Then again Rock Bridge senior Whitney Reys says she would be happy if history merely repeated itself one more time.

“We want to win state,” Reys said. “How could you not? Once you’ve done it twice, you can’t lower your standards.”

The Bruins quest for a third straight title begins at Bethel Park on Saturday, where Rock Bridge (23-0) will host the District Five championships.

“I think our team’s looking good for districts,” coach Ben Loeb said. “I think we’re ready to go and looking forward to a good tournament.”

Added Reys: “It’s a huge weekend. This is the beginning of the road; the first step in postseason play, and we’re really excited.”

Enthusiasm for tennis is nothing new to Reys. Her father, Bob Reys, played for Central Missouri State in college; her brother, Rustin Reys, was a standout for Rock Bridge’s boys team before playing at Xavier University the past two years.

“I gave them opportunities to play and work with them,” Bob Reys, who is assistant coach at Rock Bridge, said. “But you’ve got to want to do it for yourself, and both (Reys siblings) were willing to do that.”

Reys and doubles partner Kara Hickey picked up the game, from their fathers, together at age 8. They have stayed with the game all the way to Rock Bridge, where the two friends teamed to win the state doubles championship (Hickey’s third consecutive) along with their team trophy last year.

Reys is set to play doubles again this year, but exactly who her partner will be has not been disclosed. Loeb is withholding the decision he and Hickey came to on whether she will seek a fourth consecutive doubles championship or a singles title until Saturday.

Reys broke into the varsity lineup her freshman year, playing No. 5 singles, and moved up to No. 4 and No. 3 in subsequent years.

With last season’s No. 2 player, Stephanie Smarr, graduating, it only made sense for Reys to move into the vacated slot.

It didn’t happen, though, because exchange student Kirsten Stople joined the Bruins’ team.

Reys said she didn’t have any hard feelings and quickly got over any disappointment she had at not playing No. 2.

“I’d definitely rather be on a team where I’m playing three and we’re a better team than play on a weaker team at two,” Reys said.

With players capable of playing in a higher flight at every position, Rock Bridge has rolled over its opponents this year. With few tests on the court, Reys said she and her teammates must challenge themselves to stay sharp.

“It’s hard. You have to find motivation to want to beat them bad,” she said. “We try to think about improving ourselves for state, working on the little things. At state it’s going to be the little things that win or lose the match, so we need to get better for that.”

Loeb, who said it has been gratifying to watch Reys excel and progress, has seen the senior become bigger and stronger on the court. He also sees the intangibles that the pupil describes in her mindset.

“She has a lot of tenacity,” Loeb said. “She hates to lose and has a very strong preference for winning.”

Beyond this year, Reys is less sure of her goals. She is undecided on a college; though she says she has sent out feelers to a handful of schools recently.

Vowing not to choose a school based only on tennis, Reys said she thinks she will try to play no matter where she goes.

“I’ve been doing it for so long I can’t imagine not playing at all,” Reys said.

That is a decision for another day, though, as Reys said she is taking in the home stretch of her senior season.

“We have October 21st (date of state tournament) circled and only three weeks to go; you think ‘gosh, it’s so soon,’ and it’s my senior season,” Reys said. “I’m really glad it’s (districts) at home, it will be nice to have one last match there.”

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