Emily Peterson was unbeaten as a freshman through Nixa’s regular-season schedule and the Lady Eagles’ historic run to a District title a year ago. But she was realistic enough to know her W-L record would not be better this year.
She’s a much-improved player, but has already lost twice. Peterson is 5-2 while playing at No. 1 singles, after making an almost unprecedented jump from her No. 6 singles spot last season.
“There's a big gap between one and six,” Peterson said.
She’s understood the losses aren’t any indication of the dramatic improvement she’s made.
“Seeing where I was last year to this year has been rewarding enough,” Peterson said. “I like the style of play at No. 1. There’s more strategy involved, like hitting toward the other person's weaknesses. There’s also more intensity.”
The storyline regarding Peterson last year centered on her decision to choose tennis over volleyball. This year, the intrigue surrounding her is all about her rapid rise and the commitment she’s made to the sport.
“She’s very dedicated,” coach Brock Blansit said.
“I've definitely dove into it,” Peterson said. “I pretty much play tennis every day, practicing at (the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield) in the spring, summer and winter. i’ve been working on it a lot and focusing more and more.”
Peterson is on a very short list of players anywhere who have gone from No. 6 to No. 1 over four years, never mind one. Her leap has caught the attention of Nixa opponents.
“I hear a lot of things from (Blansit) about other coaches saying they can't believe I was at No. 6 last year,” Peterson said.
Peterson is also at No. 1 doubles and has partnered with Abby Fulnecky for a 6-1 record.
Looking ahead to the post-season, Peterson anticipates choosing to play doubles, rather than singles.
"The next couple years I will want to dial in on singles, but this year no,” Peterson said. “I feel like Abby and I have a very good connection. We have high expectations and hope to win most tournaments.”
Peterson and Fulnecky were both singles and doubles winners Tuesday, as Nixa edged Republic 5-4.
Nixa 5, Republic 4
No. 1 - (N) Emily Peterson def (R) Mari Davidson 8-1; No. 2 - (N) Abby Fulnecky def (R) Lily Carlo 8-0; No. 3 - (N) Jocelyn Cosgrove def (R) Matilyn Carpenter 9-7; No. 4 - (R) Ellyanna Woodward def (N) Sailor Powley 8-5; No. 5 - (N) Audrey Martens def (R) Kaitlyn Teeter 9-7; No. 6 - (R) Grace Replogle def (N) Paige Morris 9-3
No. 1 - (N) Peterson/Fulnecky def (R) Carlo/Carpenter 8-1; No. 2 - (R) Davisdon/Monica Henry def (N) Cosgrove/Marten 8-6; No. 3 - (R) Woodward/Teeter def (N) Powley/Morris 8-4