For the Love of the Game

STEVE CORNELIUS I CJ

Pulaski County High School sophomore Emma Calfee has started the 2019 high school tennis season with an undefeated singles record. However, Calfee admits that the relationships she has made with her teammates and her opponents is far more important than the wins or losses.

With the high school tennis season at the midway point, Pulaski County High School sophomore Emma Calfee is off to a perfect start with an undefeated record in singles play. As the Lady Maroons top-seeded player, Calfee is considered one of the best young female tennis players in the region.

Growing up, Emma Calfee participated in a lot of the usual sports like baseball, cross country and basketball. But at an early age, the sport of tennis was not even on her radar.

"I played T-ball for a little bit," Calfee recalled. "Then after T-ball ended, I started cross country from kindergarten through my fifth-grade year. I also played basketball my fourth-grade year."

But it was by sheer coincidence that Emma Calfee was introduced to the game of tennis.

"I stopped running after my fifth-grade year, and I had a lot more free time on my hands," Calfee laughed. "I started seeing people play tennis out on the courts and that interested me."

Since then Calfee's free time has went away, as the slender fleet-footed young girl now spends countless hours working on her tennis game.

"My mom got in contact with the Pulaski County High School tennis coach Chris Adkisson, and he invited me to come out and play on the courts," Calfee stated. "From then on, I have been in love with the game."

For Coach Adkisson and the Lady Maroons' tennis program, Calfee's love of the game quickly paid dividends. For four years, since her seventh-grade year, Calfee has been the Lady Maroons' top-seeded female singles player.

"I believe the whole sport spoke to me," Calfee stated. "The fundamentals of the game, plus the passion of winning the point, drew me into the game."

And as Calfee grew from a little girl to a young woman, her tennis game matured as well.

"My game has definitely changed for the better," Calfee admitted. "I am more aware of each point, and this has made me a smarter player."

At the high school level, Calfee has not been able to advance past the region quarterfinals. But Calfee is hoping to get over that hump to win region and play in the state tournament.

Calfee's play on the tennis courts stretches way beyond the springtime high school season. Over the past several years, Calfee has been crowned champion in numerous tennis tournaments which include the Cherif Hechema 15U Junior tennis champion, the Bingham Tire & Barnhill Dentistry 2017 Open champion, the MTC 2017 Girls 15U Singles champion, the 2017 Lake Cumberland Open Girls 15U singles champion, the 2017 MTC Whitley tennis champion, and the 2017 N Laurel Open Girls 15U champion.

Emma Calfee wins a lot on the tennis courts. But Calfee admitted that winning is not the fun part about tennis, it was the relationships she made with her one-on-one opponents that made tennis so much fun.

"The sport came naturally to me," Calfee stated. "The hardest part was probably being less uptight in matches, where I would actually talk to my opponent, and not just leave the court without knowing anything about them."

Calfee has also built a special bond with all her Pulaski County High School tennis teammates.

"We all get together and hit during the off-season," Calfee stated. "Also, the girls tennis team will usually have a sleepover throughout the year."

Win or lose, Emma Calfee loves the game of tennis and she cherishes the relationships she has made with her teammates and her opponents.

STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at sports@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.

Steve Cornelius has worked as a journalist at the Commonwealth Journal since 2001, and has been the CJ Sports Editor since 2005.