With the provincial championships to look forward to, EDSS Grade 11 student Izzy Speiran can revel in two more milestones in her tennis career.
With her tournament win on October 17, she became the school’s first senior WCSSAA champion since 1997. October 28 saw Speiran win the regional championship, where she was crowned the top senior’s girl player in the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association (CWOSSA).
“Pretty much anybody can go to WCSSAA, which is kind of nice, because you get a big range of experience and talent. And then CWOSSA… you’re getting the winners from all the different areas. That’s a little bit more challenging,” said Speiran
For Speiran, the two wins are the latest in a long line of success on the court, including a junior WCSAA championship in Grade 10. She got into the sport when she was just three years old.
“I played at the Southampton Tennis Club when I was little. My dad wanted me to get into tennis, as well as my brother so we played a lot of sports growing up. I put a lot of work in, we were at the courts usually four or five days a week for practice. Especially over the summers, I play a lot of tennis,” she said.
The seniors division is much more difficult than the junior, Speiran stated.
“[It’s] pretty exciting, honestly. I’m looking forward to having a banner in the gym.”
While the CWOSSA final saw her defeat a friend from Preston High School who she has played twice before, Speiran is not using it as bragging rights.
EDSS teacher Dave Gartshore has coached Speiran for two seasons. He quickly saw the talent she has.
“Literally when I coached her in Grade 10, the second she came out and after three seconds of hitting, you can already tell that somebody’s got a lot of experience and a lot of talent – the technique and everything else was very refined. She’s got a great attitude about it and she puts a ton of effort into practice,” Gartshore said.
Beyond the accolades, coach Natalie Biancolin highlighted the sportsmanship Speiran brings.
“[In] high school sports, you’re going to get varying ability levels. And Izzy has always been really helpful with those who are still trying to learn. She’ll compliment them and even if it’s a really simple shot that they should have got, [she’ll say] ‘it’s OK. Good try, move on. Let’s keep going.’ So it’s just a testament to her character,” Biancolin said.
Gartshore concurred, noting that Speiran has taken a leadership role on the EDSS team.
“A lot of the time, we could just say, ‘OK, you’re going to be the coach for these people’ and Izzy would run servers with them for a while,” he said.
She has brought that added effot to her games, Gartshore added.
“I think she’s a wonderful sports person to play against…every time no matter how bad she’s crushing somebody, she is very gracious, very nice to them after, always complimenting their play, regardless of how much she destroyed them.”
Because the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) provincial championship is not until June, Speiran, a multisport athlete who also competes in swimming, will put tennis on the backburner for the time being.
“I’m planning on just keeping up with my skills over the wintertime. I play at Waterloo tennis clubs, so I’m hoping to just hit semi often. But at this point, swimming is my priority until OFSAA comes around for tennis,” Speiran said.