El Estoque

Freshman Leslie Ligier’s arduous journey to varsity tennis

Freshman Leslie Ligier competes in a varsity tennis match. Ligier, one of three MVHS freshmen on the varsity team, is a nationally ranked tennis player.

Freshman Leslie Ligier competes in a varsity tennis match. Ligier, one of three MVHS freshmen on the varsity team, is a nationally ranked tennis player.

Aditya Pimplaskar

Story by Aditya Pimplaskar and Derek Shao

Freshman Leslie Ligier has followed an odd path to success. Unlike most who find themselves immediately drawn to their passions, Ligier has experienced a journey from disinterest to domination on the tennis court. Ligier, sister of 2015 MVHS alumnus, two-time varsity soccer player Michael Ligier, has a unique set of talents. In addition to being the freshman class president, Ligier is also a freshman on the varsity tennis squad, which normally consists of juniors and seniors. According to sophomore Carol Lei, who also plays on the MVHS varsity team, only three of the 16 team members are freshmen.

Freshman Leslie Ligier competes in a varsity tennis match. Ligier, one of three MVHS freshmen on the varsity team, is a nationally ranked tennis player.

Freshman Leslie Ligier competes in a varsity tennis match. Ligier, one of three MVHS freshmen on the varsity team, is a nationally ranked tennis player. Photo by Sandhya Kannan

Despite her recent tennis success, Ligier was not always a dominant player on the courts. In fact, tennis did not even appeal to her when she initially started.

“I actually didn’t want to play tennis,” Ligier said. “I wanted to play soccer, but since my brother was already playing soccer, my parents wanted me to do tennis.”

At the age of seven, Ligier began her tennis career at a small clinic in Virginia, but was clearly uninterested in the sport. But things changed when she played her first novice tournament at the age of ten.

At the tournament, Ligier tasted defeat for the first time.

“I didn’t win a single game, and it was really tough for me,” Ligier said. “Even as a little kid, I hated losing.”

Ligier’s losses motivated her to learn and grow as a player. She started practicing more and now practices everyday, whether it’s by herself or with the MVHS team. Having practiced with the MVHS varsity team since her eighth grade year, Ligier’s hard work has paid off and she is now a nationally ranked player and a key player on varsity.

Although hard work was a key factor in Ligier’s success on the courts, confidence and proper coaching also helped her develop as a player.

“In the beginning, I lost so much because I was so unconfident,” Ligier said. “I didn’t believe that I could do it.”

Ligier needed to overcome this obstacle, and with the help of coaches and teammates, she was able to build up her confidence.

“My coach [Bruce Becker] definitely helps me a lot with confidence,” Ligier said. “When I step on the courts now, it’s just another match. I feel much more comfortable.”

This confidence is very much needed to play at the varsity level.

According to Ligier’s varsity teammate senior Sarah Lim, Ligier brings a great deal of talent and heart to the MVHS team. Though it is not unusual for freshmen to play on the varsity team, Ligier’s skill speaks for itself as she has risen to the top of the varsity rankings.

“Everybody loves her,” Lim said. “She’s the best on the team, so she’ll make us better.”

With the support of her team and coach, Ligier looks onward to a dominant season for MVHS and a potential future career in tennis.

“It’s tough. There are a lot of good players out there, but I’ve had a pretty good season so far,” Ligier said. “I’m definitely growing as a player, so taking it to the next level is my next challenge.”

Ligier and the Matadors look to make a push towards late-season success, hoping to follow up on last years CCS quarterfinals appearance with a tournament victory and an appearance in NorCals.

Additional reporting by Om Khandekar