FORT WAYNE – Individual accolades are becoming as much a part of Rachel Suttons tennis game as a forehand. But awards are not what drive the Carroll junior.
Its more about what she does after matches, and thats celebrating with her teammates.
I love being a part of a team because it makes tennis more fun, she said. The teams that I have been a part of at Carroll have been the best teams I could ever ask for.
Sutton is poised to be one of the most decorated individual players at the school after her career is over next year. But the quest for the programs first-ever appearance at the state finals is more important to Sutton.
Our goal is to make it to state, and we feel like this group can do it, Sutton said. We are ready to show what we are truly made of and prove that we are a state contender.
The Carroll program added a seventh sectional title last year, but it has never been on the winning end of a regional.
The No. 12 Chargers (17-2) have a chance this year. The two losses came from No. 5 Indianapolis North Central and No. 6 Cathedral.
She is one of the rare players who makes the teams success just as important as her own personal success, Carroll coach Kyle Stoffel said of Sutton. Her work ethic and attitude are a large part of why weve been so successful the last couple of years.
Sutton has been the teams No. 1 singles player since her freshman season and has been All-NHC and All-District every season. She also earned second-team All-State status last year.
Being a 14-year-old freshman and playing No. 1 singles is a lot to take on, but as Ive gotten older Ive grown into my role at Carroll, Sutton said.
Sutton is 19-3 this year and 61-11 for her career. A run at the schools best record of 85-14 is within reach, especially with a deep postseason run the next two years.
Stoffel credits Suttons work ethic as the driving factor for her success.
The season doesnt end for Sutton with the high school competitions. Like most top-flight players, there are offseason tournaments and workouts that continue until the next season arrives.
She understands what it takes to be a top player and has added a physical fitness component to her training in the last year, Stoffel said.
Its all part of being the best player – and teammate – she can be.
Ive spent countless hours on the court and in the gym to make myself the best tennis player, she said. Ive also grown into a better player as Ive gotten older.
A tennis player since the age of 3, Suttons post-high school goals include playing NCAA Division I.
I have started the recruiting process this fall and have been in contact with many coaches around the country, she said.
I plan to take a lot of visits this summer. There have been many interested schools so far, but right now Im keeping an open mind.