Valwood tennis player Andee Fafard has made the leap from playing doubles in middle school, to No. 3 singles, where she played as a sophomore, then into the No. 1 singles slot, where she plays now as a senior on the Valiants tennis squad.
“Andee has made a huge improvement in a relatively short amount of time,” Valwood tennis coach Brian Beland said.
Andee herself realizes just how far she has come in such a small window.
“It is tough going from having a partner playing with me [in doubles] to being by myself at number one singles,” she admitted. “It has been totally different. I was really nervous.”
Andee recalled receiving her first tennis racket.
“My dad bought me a tennis racket when I was in the sixth grade,” she said.
It didn’t take her long to begin using it.
“I started playing right away, and in middle school I started taking it a little more seriously,” she said.
Breland said he first saw Andee play in her 10th-grade season.
“When I first arrived here at Valwood, Andee was a sophomore,” he said. “She was very raw at first, but you could see the potential was there. She was just really starting to come into her own as a player.”
The Valiants coach said Andee worked hard to make herself better, and her game showed that.
“She’s a really competitive player who will stay with it as long as she can,” Breland said. “She has some of the longest matches simply because she doesn’t give in – she’ll force her opponent into making a mistake.”
But that’s nothing compared to the expectations Andee is facing this season. At a school that regularly excels in sports such as volleyball, soccer, swimming and more, the Valwood tennis coach is expecting big things from his best overall player after she just missed state as a singles player last season.
“Andee led us to a region title last year, and I think team-wise we will compete for a region title again,” Breland said. “But this year we expect her to get to state as a singles player, and eventually she will lead us a team to the state championship also.”
Last year, Andee finished 8-3 overall and fifth in region matches.
Breland considers Andee the Valwood tennis team’s top player, and while it appears she has a bright future in the game, Andee said she has other plans.
“I ride horses and have been doing that since I was eight years old,” she said. “Truthfully, that is my main focus.”
Andee said she wants to study to become an equine veterinarian.
“I may go to ABAC [in Tifton] for their pre-vet program, then transfer to the University of Florida,” she said. “That’s my end goal.”