Going into her junior year, Audrey Todd had already been part of two Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tennis championships for Roland Park, sharing the first one with Bryn Mawr. Her third chance last week — when the Reds came away winners in the four-day tournament capped on Thursday — was even more special. Also in the middle of the excitement was Audrey's younger sister, Ava, a freshman who made an instant impact. Audrey won at No. 1 singles — avenging her only loss of the season by defeating McDonogh's Kristina Centenari, 7-5, 6-4 to finish 8-1 — and Ava finished the season 9-0 at No. 2 singles by beating St. Paul's Marta Cherpak, 6-0, 6-1. Audrey, who also plays varsity lacrosse at Roland Park, and Ava are both 'A' students at Roland Park.
QUESTION: What was it like helping the team bring home another championship?
AUDREY: It was really exciting for our whole team. Everybody really contributed and we worked so hard throughout the season. It was especially exciting for me because I had lost to [Centenari] during the regular season.
Q: What was different about the second match you played against Centenari?
AUDREY: It was a completely different match. The first time it was really hot and we were both drained by the end of the match. The second time it was cooler and windy, and we both had to play entirely different games to adapt to the wind. But I still feel like I tried to take what I learned from my loss in the first match and change things so I could do better in the second match.
Q: What do you think made the team special this year?
AVA: Everyone was very supportive of each other, we were all good friends and very close. When one match finished, the next match everyone would go out and support anyone else who was still playing, and I think that really helped people get through the matches when they had teammates supporting them.
Q: After only competing as an individual in tournaments, what was it like playing for a team and representing Roland Park?
AVA: It was definitely an adjustment. I had never played on a school team before and it was very exciting. I remember my first match, I was double faulting a lot and very nervous. But as the season went on, I really got used to being around my teammates and I would always have my sister on one side of me and our No. 1 doubles team on the other side of me and everybody was talking to each other and helping, so it was great.
Q: What do you enjoy most about tennis?
AVA: I like that it's an individual sport and I only have to count on myself and if I win or if I lose I know it's based on what I did out on the court. But it's also nice to come here and have the team aspect as well. So now I also have encouragement from teammates, but it's also still something that it's my individual goals.
Q: How was it playing on the same team as your older sister?
AVA: It's good to have her on the team, especially since she's playing No. 1 and I'm playing No. 2. Our game styles are very different, so it's good to watch her play and see how she is able to win matches using her strategy. That helps me see what I need to do to improve my game, by watching how well she plays.
Q: What was it like getting to play with your younger sister?
AUDREY: I enjoyed having her there. She definitely supported me a lot when I was down. It was different because last year I didn't have my sister there. I had friends, but it's definitely a different relationship.
Q: How are your styles different on the court?
AVA: I play more to keep the ball in play. I try to be consistent and keep the ball deep and wait for the other player to miss. Audrey is more aggressive. She goes for her shot and it works. She hits great shots and it's good to watch because that's something I eventually want to be able to do more.
Q: When you're struggling in a match, what do you do to get back on a positive track?
AUDREY: I try to just take a couple seconds to calm myself down. If I'm losing for a little bit, I tell myself to just keep the ball in play, build yourself back up to get a little more confidence and I try to change my game so I may have a better chance using a different strategy.
Q: How does tennis help bring you closer to your younger sister?
AUDREY: Playing with each other, you always have someone to practice with and you always have someone there to give you advice. Sometimes you can't see your own mistakes, while others can. And it's easier to tell your sister how to change something than it is to tell a friend because you have that relationship built already. So we know it's just constructive criticism and not punishing.