Some tennis coaches need to see talent on the court before they truly believe a player has it.
For other players, such as Glenbard East’s Kolie Allen, all the coach had to do is listen.
“Kolie’s ball just makes a different sound. I heard it in our first practice,” said Rams coach Bill Burt. “It’s just always louder than her opponent. You hear that thwack and you know exactly who it is.”
The freshman phenom is catching everyone’s attention, and not just from those who have seen – or heard – her play. Allen is 26-0 to start off her high school career and looks to have the talent to make a deep run in the upcoming state playoffs. Pretty good for a player who is playing on a tennis team for the first time in her life.
“Playing for Glenbard East is a lot different than playing in USTA tournaments, but I really enjoy it,” Allen said. “When I’m in a tough match, my teammates are there to cheer me up and be supportive. They’re a great group of girls”
Allen made her presence known right away. In Glenbard East’s first tournament of the season at Jacobs, she was not listed among the top singles players in the 16-team field. She ended up winning the entire event. In her first four matches, she lost five games total, an impressive feat for any player, much less a freshman.
To Allen, the performance was nothing out of the ordinary. A veteran of the USTA scene, she is used to facing off against older players. That experience has helped her on the high school level, where she will be expected to compete with upperclassmen in the state playoffs.
“Playing in those tournaments across the country has made me comfortable playing girls of different ages,” Allen said.
The freshman said her serve has been her biggest strength this season, with the power to score aces consistently. Still, her game isn’t perfect, and she must improve her consistency and composure, especially as the pressure ramps up.
So far, however, it has been so good. With 26 straight wins to start her career, Allen has caught the attention of her peers and opponents. She also may have etched her name into the Glenbard East record book, though Burt wasn’t completely sure. But if it’s not in there now, it’s bound to happen soon given the way she is playing and her approach to the game.
“Somebody asked me if she’d set the record for consecutive and it’s funny, because I have to go look it up,” Burt said with a chuckle. “But Kolie is the strongest player I’ve had in my 30 years coaching here. It is second nature to her to be competitive. She enjoys winning and it really drive her.”