By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford High School girl’s varsity tennis team swept the Southfield Arts and Technology Warriors at OHS on Thursday, April 14, fighting past strong winds to their fourth win of the season.
The majority of sets in the match were dominated by Oxford players and went either 6-1 or 6-0. 11th-grader Olivia Clark’s singles match went 2-7, 6-2 and 10-7, while 10th-grader Jenna Miller’s singles match went 6-0 and 6-4
So far the team has won nearly all of its matches, beating Holly and Auburn Hills Avondale in addition to Thursday’s win over Southfield. The team lost against Rochester on April 6 and an April 8 contest against Lake Orion was rained out.
“The team shows a lot of promise,” Gayle Bailey, OHS girl’s varsity head coach, said. “I have a lot of new players that are coming up from JV [and] I lost a lot of seniors, so I did not know what I was going to get as far as talent-wise. I did not know a lot of the JV players … I am still getting to know the girls and how they play, but they show a lot of potential.”
12th-grader and captain Kylie Ossege made her season debut playing doubles alongside fellow 12th-grader Jackie Adema. Ossege was injured in the Nov. 30 2021 shooting and had the longest hospital stay of the victims, being released on Dec. 7. The Adema-Ossege pair went 6-0 in both sets of their match.
“It was really good for her to be out there for the first time,” Bailey said. “All she has ever wanted to do is play tennis, so my heart was full when we got to see her step out onto the court.”
Ossege was unable to practice with the team for a while due to recovering, but would go to practices to support the other players.
“You will never meet someone that inspires and does not even know it,” Bailey said. “Just her day-to-day attitude, the way that she holds herself with such poise even though she is still trying to heal. That is everything you will ever want in a captain and she fulfills that every single day … She has been like this ever before this happened, so [how she carries herself] is not out of character.”
With a winning record and an upcoming league match against the Ferndale Eagles, Bailey’s plan for the season is to focus on playing solid tennis and forging bonds between teammates.
“They have been through a lot and we really just want to concentrate on their well-being,” Bailey said.
Team bonding will come in the form of non-practice events like goat yoga, spa days and team dinners.
“I think those are the things that allow this program to be successful,” Bailey said. “If the kids buy into the culture of playing for one another and not themselves, then it makes my job a lot easier. They want to be there, they want to work hard and they want to work for each other and not themselves.”
The OHS girl’s varsity tennis team takes on Ferndale at the OHS tennis courts on Wednesday, April 20 at 4 p.m. They will then be on the road for the next two days, playing Farmington on the 21st and Romeo on the 22nd.