Freshman year usually is all about being the lowest on the totem pole. Except when you are Aleksandra Drljaca and your tennis skill is so great that the opposite happens: you are the high school team’s top seed.
Drljaca (pronounced Dr-jah-cha) played number one singles last fall for the EGHS girls tennis team from day one. Her record? Drljaca won all of her 13 matches during the regular Division II south season. Out of 26 sets played (she only ever needed two sets to win a match), Drljaca lost a mere 19 games.
So perhaps it’s not too surprising that Drljaca was named recently to the Providence Journal’s All State first team in girls tennis.
Remarkably, she only started playing tennis because a friend needed someone else to take lessons with. That was when Drljaca was 9 years old.
“She didn’t continue but I don’t like to quit anything,” she said.
These days, Drljaca plays tennis nearly every day. She competes yearround in USTA tournaments around New England. She plans to play in college.
According to her EGHS coach, Marc Brocato, Drljaca handled her status on the team well.
“Amazingly, even though she essentially displaced three senior singles players ahead of her, they all respected her position because of the fact that she, first and foremost, is a wonderful kid who happens to be a great tennis player,” said Brocato.
“The girls were really welcoming,” said Drljaca.
She said that the best part of the season for her personally came when she got to the quarter finals in the state tournament – one of the top 8 players in the state. (During the state tournament, singles players and doubles teams play for themselves, not as part of a larger school team.)
Drljaca met her match during the championship, when she was pitted against Smithfield’s Jenna LeBarre, who had made it to the top 4 during the state tournament.
Drljaca took the first set easily, but lost the next two. For Coach Brocato, that was Drljaca’s shining moment.
“Here was a freshman, playing in the state finals, and she had two choices … for the match: either be scared out of her mind or be completely excited to be in the moment,” Brocato said. “Alex chose the latter and that says so much about her.”