Sports Person of the Week
Roberts Makes Lifelong Friends and Memories Through Tennis
Jade Roberts found her niche as a member of the East Haven girls’ tennis team. Jade loved competing for the Easties and was named one of their senior captains this year. (Photo courtesy of Jade Roberts )
Jade Roberts didn’t start playing tennis competitively until her freshman year at East Haven High School. Jade had played a few matches for fun with her sister Mia, but never stepped on the court in a competitive setting. In her freshman year, Jade decided she wanted to try out for the Yellowjackets to not only play tennis, but to also be a part of a team.
Jade was nervous when she showed up for tryouts as a freshman. Jade knew that she had only a bit of tennis experience and didn’t even think that she would make the team. However, when the roster was announced, Jade’s name was included, and her time with the East Haven girls’ tennis program had begun.
“I was so excited. I was very ecstatic,” says Jade, a Class of 2020 graduate, about making the team. “There were so many girls, handfuls and handfuls of girls, that were trying out in the freshman class. I just knew this was something that would actually help me. I went through a lot of obstacles in life, and I think tennis has just really helped me.”
Jade discovered that she had a passion for tennis after making the cut with the Easties. While she was learning her new sport, Jade made a lot of new friends and quickly became acclimated to the team. As she continued practicing and started competing, Jade knew that she had found a home on the tennis court.
“I immediately fell in love with it. It was the sport for me,” Jade says. “You have to have a lot of strides to play, and it’s very fast-paced. You have to have a lot of endurance. I loved playing, and I still love playing to this day. I think I’ll forever love playing tennis.”
Jade primarily played singles during her tenure with the East Haven girls’ tennis team. By her junior season, Jade was holding down the No. 3 singles position for the Yellowjackets. Jade says that playing singles that year helped her learn how to battle back when she was behind in her matches. She also gained strength from the camaraderie that she had formed with her teammates and coach Dave Oshana.
“The whole team is so loving. Coach Oshana is a great teacher and mentor for this sport. Everyone has grown and come together,” says Jade. “We connected very well, and we were close. We were together every day in the spring. We grew a love for each other.”
Jade feels that her stamina and a positive attitude are her two greatest strengths as a tennis player. While playing matches that could last for hours, Jade came to understand how important it is to stay focused and persevere through every single point. Furthermore, Jade maintained a positive outlook during her matches and always walked off the court with a smile on her face, regardless of the outcome.
Heading into her final year, Jade was named one of East Haven’s senior captains alongside Riya Patel, Emma Luden, and Kayla Vernon. Although the Yellowjackets were unable to compete due to COVID-19, Jade felt honored to be selected as a captain and feels that earning that title showed her just how far she had come.
“It made me so proud of myself. When Coach Oshana announced in front of everyone who the captains were, I was ecstatic,” Jade says. “I was very excited to get the honor of being able to lead the team. I had a connection with everybody on the team. They were excited that we were named captains, too. Everyone knew that we worked together really well.”
In addition to learning a new sport and meeting new people, Jade says that tennis gave her an opportunity to express herself. Jade likes that she could be herself on the court and believes that her experience from playing tennis helps her deal with any difficulties that come her way in everyday life.
“The sport helped a lot with stress,” says Jade. “When you’re standing there and holding that racket, looking at your opponent, you can hit that ball with all you got. I have gone through a lot of obstacles throughout these four years, and tennis has helped me relieve a lot of stress.”
Jade will be attending Gateway Community College for the next two years. While she has yet to pick a major, Jade is hoping to pursue something in the health care field before transferring to a four-year university.
As a freshman, Jade showed up at tennis tryouts hoping that she would have an opportunity to compete for a team. Jade accomplished that goal and went on to form everlasting connections with her teammates. Even though she’s played her last match at East Haven, Jade knows that tennis will always be near and dear to her heart.
“It means so much. Tennis is in my heart and will always be in my heart,” Jade says. “I will always enjoy playing and remember everything from the team—what I’ve learned and the life lessons. Playing tennis has made me a better person. It has opened me up to many different options in life. It will always be important to me.”