Freshman Nicky Stracar doesn’t want to get off the court.
As one of the standout freshman on the Wisconsin women’s tennis team, Stracar would rather stay out on the court as long as possible than take a nice break after a hard day’s workout.
“She’s a really hard worker,” redshirt junior Alaina Trgovich said. “She probably spends the most time on the court than anybody else. She always comes early, always stays later, is always doing extra.”
Battling through injury and getting used to college life, Stracar has already started to make her mark on the tennis team.
Despite her 9-10 overall singles record, Stracar has made a solid showing in the top of the lineup for the Badgers. With the fourth best record on the team – behind upperclassmen and fellow freshman standout Jenny Hois – and a 7-4 record at the No. 1 spot and a 2-4 record at the No. 3 spot, Stracar hasn’t shown her youth.
“She’s a kid that wants to be the star. She’s going to strive to be the star, and eventually it’s going to happen because she has that desire and determination,” head coach Brian Fleishman said. “She hasn’t played like a freshman yet. She’s been playing the last two months hurt. She’s taking it for the team, and she wants to get out there; she does not want to sit on the sideline and watch.”
In light of Fleishman’s praise, Stracar felt her match last Sunday finally showed her age.
Up 3-0 in the first set Stracar couldn’t hold onto the lead, losing the first set, forcing her to fight for a third set to win the match. Forcing the third set Stracar was one of the last Badgers still playing. The only other match still in play was junior Aleksandra Markovic, who won, sealing the win for the Badgers.
Being concerned about her teammate, Stracar felt she lost focus initially in the third set and couldn’t hold on for the win.
“I knew the match was coming down to me and [Markovich] and I kept constantly looking over and by the time I knew it I was down four-love on my court in the third set,” Stracar said. “I came back to five all but I think that was a big freshman moment, just looking over and seeing her score and getting a little tight and nervous if it was to come down to me.”
Already making an impression on her coaches in the top half of the lineup, Stracar has made it clear she plans to continue playing there.
“She doesn’t want to play anywhere but high in the lineup,” Fleishman said. “She’s already made that statement known…I think she proved herself in the fall that she was worthy of playing at the top of the lineup, in the top one, two or three position. Now it’s just a daily thing, going out there and proving yourself on a daily basis.”
Continuing to prove herself, Stracar’s style of play sets her apart from the rest of the boys. In fact based on her style, she should be playing with the guys.
Stracar can hit the ball just as hard as the next guy with just as much velocity and strength behind it. If that wasn’t enough, she has one of the best serves on the team.
“She is that type of player that plays similar to a guy – an aggressive style,” Fleishman said. “She’s got a big serve. She’s got the ability to hit a heavy spin ball, she can come to the net – which a lot of the girls don’t do – that’s why she plays similar to a guy, which is a good thing. It’s going to pay off in dividends, maybe not this year, but in the next three years it’s going to really come along.”
Freshman year hasn’t gone exactly as Stracar had hoped, especially in light of the tendonitis she’s been fighting for several months now.
For awhile Stracar felt she was just holding a spot for her team, fighting to give her team a chance to win. Now that it’s a little better she’s more confident she can compete at a high level and win.
“A few weeks ago I was just holding my spot, slicing forehands out there so the girls can get a win at their spot,” Stracar said. “Now I can actually hit forehand; it’s not that painful. I’m not going out there to play, to hold a spot, I’m going out there to win.”
Facing some adversity Stracar hasn’t been able to reach her ultimate goal this year: All-American status. With three more years left, Stracar isn’t ready to give up just yet.
“She’s never going to quit out there,” Fleishman said. “She’s not going to settle for anything else but to be an All-American. That was her goal this year, it’s going to be the same thing next year and the year after. She wants this team to do well, and she knows if she can become an All-American, this team is going to become that much better too.”