And when the opposites attract, the only attacking they do is on the tennis ball. For Norwalk senior’s Kaitlyn Stoll and Anessa Berry, their polar opposite demeanors made them the perfect team to represent the Truckers at Friday’s OHSAA State Tournament in Mason, Ohio.
Stoll, the more laid back member of the doubles team, is the power player who started as a doubles player, transitioned to a singles player and then back to doubles for her senior year. Berry is the more assertive player who takes control of matches and is an expert match manager and doubles player.
“She acts like a mom,” Stoll said of her teammate. “She bosses me around and I am laid back so I guess it is just opposites attract.”
“She gets frustrated very easy so I am there to calm her down,” Berry said of her teammate. “We both talk about strategy, but in the end I just tell her to lets get the ball back. We have all of this strategy and in the end I just tell her what we need to do.”
The duo started their careers together their sophomore year playing doubles. Stoll went on her own to play singles for her junior year and most of her senior year until the tournament started and the band got back together for a nice run to state.
“They compliment each other and technically on the court, they both have forehand and backhand games,” Norwalk coach Chris Higgins said. “It worked out when they were sophomores. Kaitlyn became a singles player and Anessa stayed doubles so she has been working to this moment for three years. Kaitlyn went to first and second singles to improve her game. What that has allowed us to do is have Kaitlyn go out and hit the ball a little harder and Anessa plays doubles the way she has been for three years. Solid.”
“We just clicked,” Berry said. “The first couple weeks of practice was rough, but after a while we knew exactly where each other was going to be on the court. Coming into the senior year, coach Higgins had all of the senior on the court and she and I were playing doubles and we got right back to how we used to play together.”
Both Stoll and Berry are 3-time All-NOL tennis players with both grabbing first team second doubles their sophomore years while Stoll grabbed first team second singles her junior year and first team first singles her senior season. Berry stayed with the second doubles and earned first team all three years of her varsity career.
But Stoll is just happy to be able to end her career with her playing partner by her side.
“It means a lot,” Stoll said. “We have played together since our sophomore year and we made it to the second round of districts last year but lost. Now that we put in all of the hard work all season we set the goal of making it to state and we met that goal.”
The two have been the anchor of a team that ran off four consecutive undefeated NOL championships and an overall team record of 74-9. Stoll went 82-20 over that span while Berry tallied an 86-12 mark making her the second winningest tennis player in Norwalk High School history.
But is the first trip to the state tournament for both players. And they are excited for the experience.
“We are just preparing and getting ready to face some very good teams,” Stoll said. “Anessa and I put in a lot of work this week to try and make it as far as we can and end our senior years on the right note.”
“I feel very anxious and excited, but a very good anxious excited,” Berry said. “I feel like the week is going to go very quick and I am excited to go through the state send off. The whole experience is surreal and the fact I even get this opportunity is amazing.”
It is a trip long in the making. Berry picked up tennis on a whim when no one in her family was really into the sport. Always requesting a tennis racket for her birthday, Berry would spend countless hours hitting the ball against the garage door before her dad came out and played with her in attempt to keep the dents from occurring.
Stoll took some more convincing. Born a volleyball player, her sister, Sara Stoll, was a tennis player for Norwalk. Admitting that she was “conned into playing” by Higgins, the decision became one she wouldn’t soon regret.
“I remember her on Court 2 before she was in high school and I walked up to her and asked if she was going to play tennis next year while she was hitting with her sister. She was kind of in between and I just kept telling her if she wants to play tennis, we could win the NOL championship and I think that worked out for her. Anessa has been a consistent player and I have had the pleasure of having her family in class. We are lucky to have her.”
The ladies will depart Norwalk High School on Thursday for the proper send off. The weekend will bring an experience they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
“I will gladly take care of practice this week,” Higgins said. “I am just looking for the girls to walk into the state tournament with a good attitude and have the will to win. Every body is going to be tough down there and it doesn’t happen very often that Norwalk girls tennis makes it. It is very nice that these two individuals made it.”
“I am just looking forward to the experience and playing good teams that also want to win and are excited to be there,” Stoll said. “And getting free food will be a nice bonus.”