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Irving Young's Mama Mia

Bay's Starck adds to trophy case

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Williams Bay High School senior Caroline Starck certainly isn't any stranger to awards and accolades.

Her trophy collection grew by one earlier this summer — and it had a little extra special feeling attached with it.

Starck received the prestigious Leann Grimes Davidge individual sportsmanship award at the conclusion of the 57th annual Midwest Tennis Association's Marian Wood Baird (formerly the Wightman Cup) in Muncie, Ind.

The award recipient was selected by the 120 girls who competed at the three-day event, which gave it a little extra clout, Wisconsin's Marian Wood Baird Cup coach Tom Chorney said.

"When you're elected by your peers, that usually takes on a little different kind of a light for most people," he said. "It does for me. I've been doing this event for 19 years and seen some wonderful kids win that award."

Chorney said Starck seemed a bit shocked when her name was called at the post-event banquet.

"It was just such a neat thing for her," he said. "She's so quiet. I think she was more embarrassed and humbled when she won it than anything.

"At that moment, I was just laughing inside because of how it hit me like that and I was just happy for her."

Starck, the two-time defending WIAA Division 2 individual state champion, was among eight girls who were selected to compete at this year's event.

The team was second in its four-team pool and finished sixth overall. The tournament included teams from each of the 14 districts in the Midwest Section.

Chorney, who has worked with Starck during the offseason the past three years, said nothing she does on or off the court surprises him.

"She's just so competitive inside, and you can see that," he said. "You just have to love that part. There's definitely a fire in there and something driving that. There's no signs of negative competitiveness that you see in some kids.

"She's just so open to new ideas and is so coachable. That's what you love as a coach because you have a chance to make an impact."

Others who have worked with Starck, who now is being recruited by several NCAA Division I schools, echoed Chorney's sentiments.

Starck's former coach Scott Anderson, who now works at the Oneida Golf and Country Club in Green Bay, said he found out early how determined she is to succeed.

When she was 4 years old, Starck came to a lesson with one of her older sisters and participated in a drill that didn't end until she figured it out.

"I would drop a ball for her and let her hit it over the net," Anderson said. "If she hit it over, she got the point. It turned into about a half an hour because she didn't win.

"Where a lot of kids will get upset, the only thing she was upset about is I wanted to (end the drill) and get off the court. She would make me do it again and again until she got the first four."

It's that level of determination that sets her apart.

"She's never changed, all the way through high school, through all of our lessons," Anderson said. "She's a good athlete, but what gets overlooked is her determination. ... She was tenacious, right from age 4."

While she's certainly accomplished a lot on the high school scene, Starck's contributions to the Big Foot-Williams Bay squad go well beyond the tennis court, her high school coach Jim Karedes said.

Behind her efforts, the Chiefs have competed at the last three state team tournaments and finished second in 2007.

"Her leadership has been priceless to us," Karedes said. "The way she carries herself in practice, in matches, on and off the court, that's what champions are made of, not just champions on the tennis court, but champions in life.

"I love that she's a great tennis player, but who she is as a person, that's what I'm going to remember about her."

Karedes also understands that it may be easier for a player of Starck's stature to become bored with a high school practice or match.

If that's the case, she doesn't show it.

"There's been times in our practices where our drills are not made for her because she's so far above them," Karedes said. "But she keeps doing what I ask her to do.

"That's the kind of kid she is. To have kids like that are such a joy to coach."

Even outside the tennis court, Starck has made huge impacts as a three-year varsity starter for the Williams Bay softball team.

It may be a different sport, but all the positive aspects of her personality come through on the diamond as well.

"What separates Caroline from the rest of her peers is the fact that her work ethic is the best I've ever seen, the best I've ever coached," Williams Bay varsity softball coach Jeff Kuespert said.

Kuespert said it's not unusual for Starck to play tennis all day during the winter and then put her time in during one of the Bulldogs' weekly softball open gyms.

It all goes back to her desire to be the very best she can.

"Being second best to Caroline is unacceptable," Kuespert said. "The only way to be the best is to work as hard as she does, not just athletically, but academically and everything else."

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