Seeking return performance

Arundel's Amy Olson aims to follow a surprising freshman season on the tennis court by repeating as the county singles champion.


Entering her freshman year at Arundel, tennis player Amy Olson didn't know what to expect.

She knew that Anne Arundel County competition was filled with solid, older players. She also knew that tennis wasn't her main sport. So Olson didn't see herself being a threat to take the county championship.

But then she started to win.

"People would tell me when I was going to play somebody good," said Olson, now a sophomore for the Wildcats. "Because I was a freshman, the other players didn't know anything about me. They weren't ready to play a tough match. I think I took some people by surprise."

As Olson surprised her opponents, she also surprised herself. She went undefeated in county matches, won the county singles title in dominant fashion, and was named The Sun's Anne Arundel County Player of the Year.

"It was very exciting," said Kim Olson, Amy's mother. "We were all sort of shocked."

A talented three-sport athlete, Olson's tactic on the tennis court is simple: use her superior speed and athleticism to run down any ball hit to her, return it, then wait for her opponents to make mistakes.

"A lot of times my opponents get frustrated because I get to a lot of stuff they don't expect me to get to," Olson said.

Olson plays sweeper on the Wildcats' soccer team - and was named to The Sun's All-Anne Arundel County first team for defense - and runs for the school's indoor track team.

Olson considers soccer her primary sport. She plays for the Baltimore Bays, who train in Glen Arm in Harford County, about an hour from the Olsons' home in Crofton. That means often heading straight from tennis practice to practice with the Bays on weeknights and playing soccer games on the weekends during tennis season.

Olson has been playing tennis for five years, since her mother signed her up for a camp. She has become more dedicated to soccer over the past year, in part because of the influence of the Bays' new girls soccer coach, Laurie Schwoy, the 1995 national Player of the Year at McDonogh.

Schwoy had high praise for Olson's soccer skills.

"She's very smart, she's very fast and she's real smooth," Schwoy said of Olson. "She's very hard to beat in one-on-one situations. She's a great player, the complete package."

Gary Bulkley, who coaches Olson at the Severn Valley Tennis and Fitness Club, said soccer has made her a better tennis player.

"She can run forever," Bulkley said. "If there's a point that takes 15 or 20 or 30 tries to win, she'll do it. She can run anything down."

Olson's abundance of energy has served her well in other areas, as well. Even while playing three sports, one year-round, she still manages to find time for piano lessons. All the while, she keeps high marks in school. The sophomore is ranked third in her class of 528 and carries a weighted 4.38 grade point average.

"She works very hard in school," Kim Olson said. "We are extremely proud of her."

Amy Olson also impresses her coaches with her composure.

"She's unflappable on the court," Arundel tennis coach Lynn Stockton-Sooy said. "She's very patient."

Bulkley said what separates Olson from her peers is her willingness to listen to her coaches.

"What is really exceptional is her attitude," he said. "She has one of the best attitudes of any of the kids that I have coached. You tell her to do something and she does it."

Even with all the success she has experienced as a freshman in tennis, Olson's sophomore year hasn't been without a test.

Olson lost for the first time in Anne Arundel County on April 4, as Old Mill's Christine Aggabao, who spent last season at a tennis academy in California, beat her, 7-6, 7-6.

In order to defeat Aggabao, Olson said she may need to abandon her conservative style.

Clint Rogers, Meade's tennis coach who also gives private lessons to Olson and her younger sister Jenny, said he believes that Olson will give Aggabao a more competitive match should they meet in the county finals next month.

"Now that it's tennis season and Amy is practicing tennis every day, she's going to be improving at a quick pace," he said. "In the final tournament at the end of the season, it's going to be interesting."

In addition to Aggabao, Olson may soon be getting competition from someone she knows very well - her sister. Jenny Olson is a freshman and Arundel's No. 2 girls singles player.

"Jenny's game is getting better and better," Rogers said. "Where Jenny's really come along is working on the technical part of her swing. She's a beautiful player to watch. She's got real nice form and balance. Once she improves her serve, it's going to be tough for any high school girl to beat her."

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