As of Tuesday, June 12, 2018
DALLAS — Starting out as a doubles player, then switching to singles because she wanted the challenge it offered, Addie Gillette has been a varsity tennis player on the Dallas Dragons tennis team her whole high school career.
Still, the humble, soft-spoken senior was surprised to hear that head coach Jordan Sollman, “Sully,” had nominated her as the Itemizer-Observer 2018 Tennis Player of the Year.
“For Sully nominating me, it’s better than cool,” Gillette said with a big smile. “I just don’t know what to say.”
Gillette has been playing tennis for 13 years, participating in numerous tennis camps and leagues growing up alongside her family. Her brother Jacob is on the boys’ tennis team at Dallas, and her two oldest brothers, Caleb and Joe, coach the boys team.
So it’s no wonder she has seen success during her four years on the courts.
One of her favorite memories of playing tennis for Dallas was during her freshman year when she made it to the consolation bracket at districts for doubles.
“My first year, I played with Dana Taylor, and she got really pumped up during matches and that was really fun,” Gillette said. “And then we won consolations, and that was the farthest I got, and she was just really pumped up and excited.”
There’s something to be said about having a genuine enjoyment of a sport that makes other people look up to you, and Sollman has seen Gillette’s passion transpire into leadership from the beginning.
“Over everything else, Addie has been a leader in the Dallas tennis program since her freshman year, not by voice, but by action,” he said. “She pushes herself and her teammates at practice to get better. She has a very kind persona/heart and it has been a pleasure having the opportunity to coach Addie.”
When Gillette asked to make the switch from doubles to singles her junior year, Sollman said he didn’t hesitate, even knowing how tough singles can be.
“Knowing how tough it was, I had no doubt in my mind that Addie would commit to work hard and would be competitive,” he said. “Her senior year, she won 10 matches (11, including a forfeit) in a really tough league, earning herself the third seed going into districts.”
Even though districts didn’t go as she had hoped, losing to two tough opponents from Corvallis and Lebanon, Gillette said she had a good year, and learned a lot through her coach’s guidance.
“I feel like I learned a lot more strategy and got mentally tougher,” she said. “I feel way more confident when I go out to play.”
After a beat, she added, “I’m just really glad I was able to have Sully (as coach) for the last four years. He’s really put in a ton of time. I really appreciate him.”
Being part of a good team is crucial for success, and Gillette said she will miss the camaraderie that she felt with her teammates over the last couple years.
“We had a bunch of girls who were really good at working with other people,” she said.
A few of the girls got injured throughout the season, and she said when “Sully had to move around a bunch of stuff, people just really stepped up and worked together well.”
Other than finishing up her associate degree at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Gillette has no immediate plans for her future.
Except, of course, to continue playing tennis.