On Saturday, sophomore Risa Takenaka won the state championship tennis match against a Kirkwood High School student at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
“I’m really excited for her,” teammate Rachel Mecklenburg said, “I knew this would be her year to win.”
Takenaka has been spending hours every day for the past two weeks preparing herself for state.
“I just kept thinking to myself I need to work hard and focus on what I’m doing,” Takenaka said.
Takenaka went undefeated in singles this year, playing a total of four matches.
“My second and third matches were the hardest,” Takenaka said, “Both girls were players who had won state before or placed really high in the tournament the previous years.”
According to Takenaka, she felt no pressure and was relaxed throughout the whole tournament.
“I thought to just do my best,” Takenaka said.” I lost at sectionals last year, so I was just happy I qualified for state this year.”
Takenaka had a huge support system all weekend. Her family, friends and teammates were with her through the whole tournament cheering her on.
“Risa stands out on the court,” Mecklenburg said. “For one, she is amazing and always finds a way to motivate the team. She is always wanting to work out or play tennis; she never stops.”
This was Takenaka’s first time qualifying for state.
“She is very competitive,” teammate, Megan Oostendorp said, “Her drive, ambition, and motivation are all qualities that helped Risa win state.”