An articulate sort, Abby Fulnecky can break down mental and physical aspects of tennis as well as she and doubles partner Emily Peterson overwhelm opponents.
Fulnecky and Peterson captured the Class 3 District 5 doubles championship last week and followed up by leading Nixa to the Class 3 District 5 team final with a 5-1 semifinal win versus Ozark on Tuesday.
Fulnecky and Peterson won at No. 1 doubles 8-1.
All this in their first go-around as doubles partners.
“Knowing (Peterson’s) dedication to the sport and her athletic ability, I was excited about being her doubles partner this year,” Fulnecky said. “I knew it would be a lot of fun. Our dynamic is so good. We genuinely enjoy what we're doing, that's why we're so successful.”
Along the way, their friendship has naturally strengthened.
“I felt like we would have a good connection,” Peterson said. “I’ve gotten to see a lot more of Abby’s personality and what makes her tick.”
“You get close to people when you have practices and matches with them every day,” Fulnecky said. “As an outsider looking in when I would see Emily play last year, she was very stoic and concentrated on the sport. Being her doubles partner now, I see so much more of her personality and what makes her laugh. She has so much fun with it.”
Peterson and Fulnecky also complement each other well due to their playing styles. Peterson is most comfortable rocketing forehand and backhand returns from the baseline, while Fulnecky’s quickness allows her to smash winners at the net.
Fulnecky has found her background as a soccer player serves her well in tennis.
“Something often overlooked is footwork. But footwork definitely comes into play,” Fulnecky said. “Oftentimes players only focus on their hand placement. But if you focus on your split-step and how you're moving to the net, you can become more agile and have swifter movements. Players who have great footwork can put themselves in position for a better shot.
“Athletes are good at tennis when they first pick it up because they already have it in mind that they're going to move quickly to the ball and be agile,” she added.
Nixa, the defending District champ, moves on to meet Republic in the District title tilt. The teams will tangle at 11:30 a.m. today at the indoors court at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.