Girls Tennis: Keisha Clousing stretches ability to state singles titleKeisha Clousing of Wheaton Warrenville South during her quarterfinal match against Carmel's Brienne Minor at the IHSA Girls Tennis Championships on Saturday, October 20, 2012 in Buffalo Grove. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 20, 2012 10:19PM
Keisha Clousing played three matches on her road to the state singles title Saturday, but some of the most important minutes of the Wheaton Warrenville South junior’s day came in Buffalo Grove’s gymnasium.
Clousing prevailed in a pair of grueling, three-set matches to advance to the state singles final against Hinsdale Central’s Alex Solovyev, and she felt extremely fatigued after beating Lyons junior Alex Chatt 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals.
“I was exhausted,” Clousing said. “My coach was stretching me throughout (the break), just trying to keep me moving and motivated. I got about 30 minutes – 30 to 40 minutes or so (to rest) – so that was enough time. If they would have given me 20 minutes, I wouldn’t have been ready. That last 15 minutes was crucial. I got my game face on.”
Clousing had a slow start to the state final when Solovyev broke her serve to take a 1-0 lead in the first set. The junior immediately broke back, however, and was able to control the rest of the match. Clousing sustained a high energy level and defeated Solovyev, 6-4, 6-1.
“I’m kind of still overwhelmed over the fact that I won state,” Clousing said after the match. “That was my goal coming into the high school season. I reached it. It’s emotional, but it feels amazing.”
Clousing’s victories against Chatt and Solovyev carried particular significance to the Tigers’ lone state qualifier because of how her state tournament ended last year. Clousing lost to Chatt in last year’s state semifinals before falling to Solovyev to finish fourth in the state.
This year’s match between Clousing and Chatt went down to the final game when Clousing was able to break Chatt’s serve to earn a berth in the state finals. While the blow of once again finishing so close to the state title stung for the Lyons junior – Chatt finished second to Jerricka Boone in 2011 – seeing Clousing win was something she enjoyed because of the pair’s friendship.
“I’m really happy for her,” said Chatt of Clousing. “We’re friends on and off the court, so I was cheering for her in the end... Out of everyone here, I was OK to lose to her.”
Clousing was forced to battle for every point against Chatt and Carmel’s Brienne Minor, whom she beat 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the quarterfinals, but she used her fitness and a strong mental approach to easily prevail against Solovyev.
“Going into it, I have to have that mentality that I’m going to win,” Clousing said. “Every tennis player, when they go out to the court, they have to lie to themselves and say, ‘I’m going to win this match.’ I went out there just thinking that and after that first set (against Solovyev) my motivation was very high. When I was up 4-1, I was like, ‘I got this’ and persevered through the last two games.”