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Nothing but a dreamer

September 29, 2010 | 08:17 AM
Badger freshman Cricket Geldermann isn't your average 15-year-old.

The wide-eyed, blonde-haired tennis sensation has more than impressed in her first career high school matches.

Winning the Southern Lakes Conference championship at No. 1 singles may have seemed like the world to most, but for Geldermann, it was just another day at the office.

Since age 9, Cricket has competed in national tournaments all over the United States including Florida and California and has trained with some of the best coaches and players the sport has to offer.

With a 14-0 record so far for the Badger girls tennis squad, anything is possible when subsectionals and sectionals roll around next week. Coach Marty Badt envisions Geldermann making plenty of noise at state.

If she makes it there, her enthusiastic personality will make his wish come true one way or another. The Regional News had a chance to sit down with Geldermann Monday afternoon to discuss her love for tennis and her future goals.

RN: How long have you been playing tennis?

CG: I have played since the age of 5. My brother Augie, who played at Badger, got me into tennis.

RN: What did Augie teach you about tennis?

CG: When I was little, he taught me the basics. But he really told me about strategy, like the head games and how to cool down when under pressure.

RN: What's the one thing you take with you from Augie for your matches?

CG: He said, "Focus like a locust." So I always remember to focus.

RN: What kind of focus does it take when your opponent knows you're undefeated, and they are gunning for you?

CG: It's hard. I'm still nervous going into matches. Ten minutes prior to my match, my teammates will have to calm me down because I will shake. My competitors always give it their all.

RN: You faced Burlington's Stephanie Londre again this weekend. She was previously undefeated. Was it tough facing a quality player?

CG: I was going in there thinking I was going to lose. It was close the whole time. She's a really good player. Stephanie and I hit at FLAC (Four Lakes Athletic Club) in Elkhorn. We've known each other a couple years.

RN: How did you start playing national tournaments?

CG: I was 9, and I started hitting with a coach from Bulgaria. He started coaching at FLAC, and he got me into some big tournaments. He sent me to Nebraska with my mom for my first tourney. I've gone to Utah, California, Florida, Kentucky and all over. I do it during the offseason. I was half home-schooled during school last year, so the school would let me leave to play tennis.

RN: Have you had success at these tourneys?

CG: I play doubles at them. I play No. 1 doubles with a girl from California. I've never won, but the best I've done is second place in doubles. She also is 15. There are divisions for 10 and under, 12, 14, 16 and 18. In the 18 division, I'm ranked in the top 10 right now.

RN: How is the team doing this year?

CG: We've done very well, a little bit better than the last couple years. Everyone is playing well.

RN: Why did you choose Badger?

CG: I live five minutes away, and my brother Brad is a junior here. He's like my best friend.

RN: Do you see yourself staying here four years?

CG: Next year, as a sophomore, I'm going to leave to get back into traveling tennis. I will be able to do my homework on the road. I only did two tournaments this summer. Usually, you're on the road for three months. You travel to Ohio, Kentucky and maybe Florida and then you go back home. I want to get back into it. Then, I will come back junior and senior year to Badger.

RN: There are some big tournaments coming up, like sectionals and state? What are your goals for the rest of the season?

CG: If I make it to state, I want to make the top eight. I know the girls who will be there, and they are very good. I've come close to beating some of them on traveling teams in the past.

RN: What is your motivation on the court?

CG: I was really close to dropping it recently because I was burnt out. But I idolize Caroline Starck, who is actually dating Augie. She has been a huge part of my game. Caroline will hit with me and tell me what I'm doing wrong. She's a phenomenal player. She's amazing. She goes to Texas Tech, and I want to go there because of her. I've maybe beaten her a couple times in practice, but otherwise I've never beaten her. Maybe I could take her on a bad day on a game to 11.

RN: You have a very solid, fast serve. How long did it take to develop that?

CG: For awhile, I would serve only with my arm. For three years I did this until I was 12. My coach from Bulgaria fixed my form. I would always have tennis elbow, and he pointed out that I wasn't using my body. It's been a four-year process. I'm supposed to serve 20 minutes a day. The first time I competed in Florida, we had to serve for two hours straight.

RN: How do you like Marty as a coach?

CG: He's fun to play for. Marty will hit with me, and he can really hit the ball. The first week, I threw my racket and cracked it because I was so mad. So now, he doesn't let up on me if I flip out. He tells me to start running. In matches, I'm fine. But sometimes, I'll get mad and stop caring. Then, I'll just play angry, and it works to my advantage.

RN: What makes you smile when you're playing?

CG: Win or lose, a long point will make me smile. I played in a three-and-a-half-hour match in a national tournament. It was 80 degrees outside, so it was 90 on the court. I lost in a tie-breaker, but it was so awesome. I couldn't even be mad.

RN: Why should young girls get into tennis?

CG: It's a fun sport. I've met a bunch of people, and I can thank tennis for that. It gives you a backbone. Girls tend to get a little feisty. It's you against the other person. It makes you stand up for yourself.

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