Kelsey Shaughnessy likes to keep herself busy.
A little more than a year ago, the Riverside student was looking for something else to do.
She already had plenty on her plate: being a cheerleader for the football and basketball teams, was in the drama club, honor society, Hispanic Club and would go on to become president of student council.
No, that wasn’t enough, so she decided to join the tennis team.
“I knew the school offered a team,” Shaughnessy said. “I was ready to try something new and I had the time.”
Now, as a senior, Shaughnessy finds herself planted in Riverside’s starting lineup, and not only is she playing, she has contributed wins in both singles and doubles.
“Actually, for being in my second year of playing, I’ve improved so much,” Shaughnessy said. “We have a young team, a really good coach. I love to go to practice. It’s been a fun experience.”
Riverside tennis coach Robert Thomas enjoys the attitude Shaughnessy brings every time she’s on the court, not caring if she’s going to play singles or doubles. For many programs, the ability to run out the same three people at singles, and trot out the same doubles teams each time out is comforting, but Thomas has been able to alter his lineup to handle injuries in part because of Shaughnessy being able to switch spots easily.
“It’s good to have versatile people that can do both. That’s a good thing for the team,” Thomas said. “Her ability to fluctuate (between doubles and singles) is important to me. It’s nice to have somebody who can handle both.”
For somebody who has that inner drive to excel, Shaughnessy has welcomed the chance to play both.
“I started at doubles, and I thought I like to challenge myself and try for singles. I saw it was a good opportunity to switch,” Shaughnessy said. “I like singles; you’re playing on your own; it’s your game, your mistakes.”
Both Thomas and Shaughnessy credit her doubles play for making her a better singles player.
“I like it when a player can do both, and has the ability to take the knowledge from (playing) doubles and incorporate it into singles strategy,” Thomas said. “They understand playing singles much better. They see the short ball, attack the net and stay at the net.
“Many players don’t have the mindset to do both,” Thomas said. “It happens when singles players go to doubles. They tend to stay on the baseline instead of being at the net.”
The net is where Shaughnessy wants to be.
“My favorite part of tennis is playing the net,” Shaughnessy said. “Mentally it really helped being in doubles,” Shaughnessy said. “I know the basics for playing singles, playing on my own, being aggressive.”
For someone who took up the game less than two years ago, Shaughnessy has made remarkable progress. She has been able to make the starting lineup, playing wherever Thomas wants her to play.
“I’ve worked hard,” Shaughnessy said. “Even though I started late, I’ve been able to have a great experience and become a good player.”
Not bad for someone who had some time available and chose a challenging athletic activity to fill that time.