This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.06/17/2023 07:35 AM
For many high school athletes, a tenure as a student-athlete is marred with moments and lessons in mental growth. With Ashley Cap’s time with the Valley Regional girls’ tennis team, she cultivated confidence to become a very credible court companion.
The Valley senior and doubles player for the Warriors started the sport many years ago due in large part to her mother’s interest in the game. While she also played field hockey at Valley, Ashley first tried her hand at lacrosse as a freshman before moving from the turf to the court in the starting lineup her sophomore season.
This season, Ashley, with her partner Fallyn Belisle, played to a strong record of 12-2 this spring for the Warriors at No. 3 doubles and helped Valley notch an 11-3 regular season record and berth in the Class M State Tournament.
“I always liked how tennis was more of an individual sport than a team sport,” says Ashley. “I think definitely having confidence in myself and my abilities helped me this spring. Without that confidence, it is hard to keep going and try to win matches. In my experiences, I have grown to learn how to work with other people, and it is nice to have another partner out there with you to help get the job done.”
Valley girls’ tennis Head Coach Sally Riggio notes that oftentimes Ashley can find herself deciding the fate of a Warriors’ match. But much like how she tackles the responsibilities of team leadership, she takes it on with a great deal of composure and class.
“Ashley has played one of the most difficult positions on our team, which is No. 3 doubles. It is one of the most difficult because it is the last match to go on the courts which leaves it, at times, the deciding match,” says Riggio. “For the past three years, Ashley has been steadfast in this role. She is a smart, calm, and controlled player who always displays exceptional sportsmanship. Her ability to manage pressure and retain her composure is a great asset. I have relied on Ashley and Fallyn all season to win, and they have certainly delivered. Off the court, Ashley is very friendly, kind, and a great role model for the up-and-coming players. Ashley is fun-loving and will be sorely missed on this team. Ashley will be attending Merrimack College where I hope she finds some new friends to continue to play tennis with. She has been a coach’s dream.”
Ashley adds that camaraderie and rapport are key when sharing the court with a cohort–being someone who can express what needs to be done and when to act as an emotional influencer around the net.
“Mentally for doubles, you have to adjust to playing and sharing the court with someone else and the communication that is involved,” Ashley says. “You also have to have good sportsmanship and keep spirits up when things are going well. It can be tough to keep going and moving your feet with the different positions to play. Having quick reflexes can be hard when you play right at the net. Fallyn and I have been really good friends, which helped us connect on the court. We talk about things we like, which helps us talk on the court during a match.”
As she crafts a furious forehand during the course of action, Ashley has additionally sharpened her mind and mental fortitude in not getting discouraged after a misplaced ball or erroneous ground stroke.
“I have grown in my mental capacity to keep going even after losing a match, set, or even point,” Ashley says. “I could get down on myself, but I’ve worked on my self-confidence. Our coach and team have helped me with that thanks to the positive environment they create. They cheer you on, even after making a mistake. My forehand has gotten a lot better. I play on the left side of the court, and so it goes down the middle and is very powerful.”
Though Ashley was not designated an official captain this spring, she more than acted upon having the responsibility by making all newcomers on the team feel right at home in enabling them to emulate her and cultivate their skills.
“I was one of four seniors, and even though I was not captain, it was very fun,” says Ashley. “I still felt like a leader to the freshmen in being able to be a role model for them.”
Ready to embark on the next chapter of her life, the court–though in a different capacity–will still be very much a part of her life and keeping her grade marks sharp. In closing her career with the Warriors, Ashley learned the value of teamwork and never forgetting the friendships she forged.
“I want to keep going with tennis, such as on a club team or with intramurals, because it helps me to focus on my grades when I have that extra physical activity,” Ashley says. “I was definitely nervous to start as a sophomore, but then I joined up with Fallyn last year, which was nice. Everyone on this team gave each other good advice and lifted each other up. At Valley, I learned how to make new friends and keep connections that will last a lifetime.”