ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Anderson High School senior Aly Daly is enjoying every minute of playing tennis in the final weeks of her high school career.
"You see the finish line right over there and it's just like we're almost finished but there is one last hurrah to do," Daly said before Friday morning's practice.
That last hurrah has worked well for Daly, who has a 7-2 record as the No. 2 singles player on the first-place Anderson boys tennis team. Daly is undefeated (5-0) in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference.
"She's been playing tennis for a long time," Anderson coach Brent Johnson said. "She's a hard worker — practicing five, six times a week pretty much her whole life."
Daly has been playing tennis since she was 9. She lived in Spain with her family for four years and was able to compete while attending an academy before coming to Anderson High School as a junior.
"Tennis, it's mostly a mental game; it's taught me a lot over the years," Daly said.
Daly had to persevere through a difficult aspect of her junior season during the fall of 2020. She had a 25-0 record and was the ECC player of the year, but was told she couldn't play in the sectional tournament due to being a close contact with another student who had COVID-19 in a classroom.
"It's the hardest news I've had to deliver as an athletic director," said Anderson athletic director Chris Newton, who is completing his eighth year in that position.
Daly wanted another opportunity this past fall but surgery stopped her comeback.
A chance to play this spring with the boys team was something Daly didn't want to pass up, and she's thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Daly's sister, Kay, serves as the Anderson junior varsity coach and the two enjoy practicing on the weekend.
"It's so awesome," Daly said. "I was nervous to start this spring but having her there, she's been with me every step of the way so it's been fun."
The boys team has embraced Daly and Newton said the chemistry has been excellent at practices and matches.
"It helped when she was beating a bunch of them," Newton said. "A good acceptance there. She's the real deal. And I think the kids saw that and said, 'Let's go, we're going to have a great year.'"
The same is true of Daly's academic year as she has a 3.75 grade-point average taking Advanced Placement and honors classes. She plans to study finance at Miami University and is leaving the door open for possibly continuing her tennis career.
"She is the definition of a student-athlete," Newton said. "A 3.75 and she doesn't take underwater fire prevention classes. She wants to be challenged in the classroom. She wants to be challenged out on the tennis courts."