Glenbrook North’s Maddy Kahn gains confidence after playing abroad

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PARK RIDGE — Glenbrook North sophomore Maddy Kahn’s tennis career experienced a turning point in late July while she was representing the United States in Israel.

Kahn, despite being unranked, finished fourth out of 64 players in the junior division of the 19th Maccabiah Games. The Maccabiah Games, an Olympic-style competition held every four years for top Jewish athletes, took place July 17-30.

Kahn returned to Northbrook having just missed winning a bronze medal, but in possession of a much greater belief in herself.

“I proved to myself I can be really good if I want to be good,” said Kahn, the Spartans’ No. 1 singles player. “My confidence was low before, I think, so my game just really escalated once my confidence was back, which was nice. And then the strokes got better, the serve. It all came along with the confidence.”

Kahn had doubted herself — she said that was partly attributable to difficult matches — despite having the skill and shot-making ability to become one of the state’s top singles players.

Beyond gaining confidence from a better-than-expected finish at the Maccabiah Games, Kahn said she also benefited from regularly practicing with Sivan Krems, who’s now a freshman at Princeton. Kahn particularly admired Krems’ stoicism on the court.

“Every single time I played her, I saw what she did,” Kahn said. “It really taught me how I should be on the court. Sometimes I don’t always have the best attitude on the court, but I’m working on it.”

Watching Krems first-hand and going 4-2 in Israel — Kahn’s losses were to gold medalist Avital Vaysbuch of Israel and Great Britain’s Rebecca Smaller, the tournament’s No. 1 seed — has helped Kahn reach a new level in the opening weeks of her sophomore season.

Kahn dominated Maine South’s Leigh Friedman on Aug. 28, beating the 2012 state qualifier 6-1, 6-1. Glenbrook North coach Peggy Holecek complimented Kahn’s progression after the match.

“She just looks stronger, and she’s a little more patient with point development,” Holecek said. “I think her serve’s gotten more consistent, too.”

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