Patriots’ Jordan Mader didn’t settle

As the number implies, competition in high school No. 1 singles’ tennis isn’t easy. A leap in playing ability for anyone new to the position can be an eye opener. Physically, players must be ready to put opponents away with hard shots and tough serves, while possessing the mental mindset of constant perseverance no matter how hard matches may get.

Jordan Mader saw those challenges first hand after she captured the seed in challenge matches. The Parkersburg South senior faced some of the toughest competition West Virginia has to offer because of their region.

But she didn’t have to…

Mader could have spent her final season at No. 2 singles, where she finished one win away from a state-tournament qualification in 2017.

She dropped an 8-2 decision to Parkersburg High’s Ashley Casto in a regional third-place contest. A win sent her to Charleston.

Casto, along with a big contigent of No. 2 players, graduated soon after, which meant if Mader stayed where she was she would have been among the state title contenders at the position this season.

It was a scenario in the back of Mader’s mind briefly at the beginning of this season, one not around for long when she really thought about what she wanted from her final year on the court.

Having been on the team for four years, Mader always felt she should have been a higher seed then she was in the past. Plus, she didn’t feel she was mentally capable of the challenge.

“I always had the No. 1 image in my head and thought I was going to get there,” said Mader. “Last year it was a tough out between Alli Barber and me for the spot. I was happy with 2 because I didn’t feel prepared for one.

“This year I feel I have mentally matured and I took the spot because it was a tough one. I was prepared to lose a lot if it meant the other girls got a chance at what they have been working so hard for … I had my year last year and I was ready to take on all the responsibilites that came with being No. 1.”

She also saw herself as a mother figure and role model to younger sister Kendal and Taya Davis, as well as Bri Dunaway last season. Stepping up to the daunting challenge was setting a good example for those coming after her.

As Mader predicted the losses have come, but none have been uncompetitive. There have been matches where the score doesn’t reflect the final result. The Patriot has gained confidence from each match and is one win away from being rewarded for her ascension to the top spot.

A victory over Huntington’s Olivia Woodward in a Class AAA Region IV match later today secures her a position in the state tournament field next weekend.

“This has been a very challenging season, which makes me a better person and a better player,” said Mader. “I am looking forward to getting the regional touranment underway.”

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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