Stepping Up to Step Down

Leah Schrass leads on and off the court


Sallisa Wyatt

Leah Schrass ends the school day doing what she loves.

The match is over. The result is final. The team breaks into applause in support of one another. For the veteran player and captain of the tennis team Leah Schrass, this is one of the many reasons why tennis has drawn her back to her roots.

Something I love is that after every match we just stand and clap for each other, because we know that we played good,” she said. “It’s been very exciting that even when we lose we know that we will keep working hard to compete.”

Since returning to the tennis class after being out a semester last year, Schrass has been announced as the first tennis captain in Rider history.

“It was so important for us to give this to Leah, because I was the one that pushed her to  take eight AP classes, even though she really didn’t want to,” head tennis Coach Kyle Apperson said. “I said, “let’s go be number one in the class”,  because I wanted her to be able to do that for herself.”

Apperson explained that even if Schrass had chosen to pursue grades she would still be on varsity, participating in other practices.

“I really missed the camaraderie of being in the tennis class period,” Schrass said. “You learn different things in sports than you do in the classroom. I’m growing in leadership skills that I wouldn’t necessarily learn in another classroom.”

Schrass has also inspired others on the team through her move, proving her uniqueness.

“She really was going for valedictorian, and she gave that up to be a part of the tennis class,” sophomore Julia Chon said. That just inspires a lot of us, because not just anyone would do that.”

Schrass explained some of the numerous benefits she has found in being a part of the tennis class.

“It’s definitely taken a weight off of my chest, to have less pressure to make all A’s,” Schrass said. “Also, to know that at the end of the day I get to go to tennis, and be outside, and just feel so free is so great. I get to say, “school is over now,” and it’s just amazing.”

The passion and love for the sport that Schrass gives has strengthened the team and redefined what tennis is to them.

“This has definitely brought everyone closer together, and reminded us that tennis isn’t just a sport, but a team,” Chon said. “The fact that she would give up something so important that has so much influence on career just motivates us to work harder and be a part of this team.”

Schrass also mentioned the difference in what is often portrayed of tennis and her perception of it as a constant source of encouragement.

Team tennis is such a unique sport, and so when you’re out there by yourself, your coaches and teammates are all there, and they can cheer for you,” Schrass said. “It’s a team, and we act like a team, and we are a team.”

Now, the team displays the effect of sacrifice and hard work, as Schrass leads them this season.

“The fact that she would sacrifice number 1 for tennis, it was the least I could do for her to reward her commitment,” Apperson said.