Nina Walls is the only senior on FPC's girls tennis team. The Bulldogs count on her to lead them.
Flagler Palm Coast’s girls tennis team has four freshmen in its starting lineup.
“They’re freshmen,” the Bulldogs’ second-year head coach Javier Bevacqua said, “but they’re very good freshmen.”
Sandwiched near the middle of the Bulldogs’ five-woman lineup is No. 4-spot player Nina Walls, the Bulldogs’ lone senior.
Walls, 18, has been playing tennis for the past six years and has been on the varsity team since she was a freshman. She’s always been in the position of looking up to her teammates. Now, she’s the one leading them.
“I think that the team is great. I’m excited for what we’re going to be able to do this year and for what they’re going to be able to do in the future.”
NINA WALLS, FPC tennis player
It’s new territory for her.
“I’ve had so much fun with the girls and even the guys team. It’s been an incredible experience, and I’m really glad I did it all four years,” Walls said. “Taking that role as the role model is new for me, but I really like it. It reminds of when I was a freshman — how I did, how I acted. I think that the girls, even though they’re younger, still have so much tennis knowledge.”
Because of the age difference, she views herself as the team mom.
She draws inspiration from past FPC players, like twins Victoria and Veronika Goncharova, who graduated two years ago. They gave her advice and showed her what it took to play tennis at the high school level.
“They were great leaders and great teammates,” Walls said. “It’s how I want to be as the senior leader of this team.”
In Bevacqua’s first season with the team last year, he quickly picked up on Walls’ leadership qualities.
“Having her this year with all the freshmen, it’s a pleasure,” he said. “She’s also an IB student, so she knows what it’s all about. She’s so well-rounded and respected. When she speaks, they listen. She gives them good advice, not only in tennis, so she steers them in the right direction. It’s invaluable to have someone like her on the team.”
The Bulldogs have their eyes on winning a conference and district title.
It’d be a hard feat to achieve without Walls’ experience.
“She’s our heart and soul right now,” Bevacqua said. “Without her, we’d be a little bit lost. We’d be having the freshmen blues without her.”
Walls will always be grateful for her high school experience, and even though she’ll be in college next year, she’s excited for what the future holds for FPC tennis.
“Overall, it’s been a great four years, and I’ve gotten so close to this team,” she said. “It’s a really great dynamic, and it’s so tight-knit. I’m going to miss it when I go to college.”