By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Katelyn Foltz is a natural leader.
The Central senior is a leader by example and with her actions for the Falcons' girls tennis squad, where she will play at the top spot for the second straight year.
"Katelyn [Foltz] is definitely a leader in every sense of the word," Central coach Mallory Skarupa said. "She helps other girls work on strokes and tries to tell them a thing or two when she sees it. She's stays calm and is a guiding presence during practice."
Foltz, who was also a leader for the volleyball team, said she tries to stay positive with the rest of the team.
"It's a little easier to be a leader in volleyball because you're playing with five other people," Foltz said. "For tennis, it's more you've got to show your leadership in practice. During a match, if you look over and you see somebody miss a shot or make a shot, just give a little positivity. It's just all about being positive, and that's definitely something that I learned leadership-wise."
Foltz said she began playing tennis just before her freshman season and immediately enjoyed it.
She played at No. 6 singles her freshman year, and took some lessons from former Central girls tennis coach and current James Madison University assistant men's tennis coach Jordon Robinson.
Foltz currently takes lessons from Brian Clarke, head tennis pro at Stonebrook Racquet and Fitness Club in Winchester. Foltz said she tries to play two or three times a week during the winter.
"Brian's helped me a lot," Foltz said. "We get along really well. It's good when you can joke around while you're hitting, and he'll make fun of me for the same mistakes. Sometimes on my backhand I say to myself what he tells me every single time I miss a backhand. I'm like, 'You know what you did wrong there.' It's helped me an immense amount."
Foltz made a huge jump up the singles ladder in her sophomore season as she moved to the No. 2 singles spot, and she said she was proud of how well she did.
She also was able to play in singles behind, and in doubles with, Molly Barb, who currently plays at No. 1 for Shenandoah University.
"I learned a lot from Molly [Barb], just hitting against her," Foltz said. "When you hit against somebody better than you, you get really frustrated when you're hitting, but you realize how much better it makes you."
Last season Foltz moved to the top of the singles ladder, and she said it was tough learning how to make that adjustment.
"It was tough to get in my head that winning and losing didn't really matter," Foltz said. "It was more of a growing year that year. That was kind of tough to get over, because I'm so competitive, but once I kind of got that through my head I really started to play better. And I just started to take each match as a learning experience, which I think I'll just continue to do this year."
Foltz said the forehand is her favorite side, and she's learning to like the backhand more than she used to. However, she said serving is her favorite part of the game.
"When I started out I didn't really have a strong serve, so I just kind of kept working at it," Foltz said. "And now that I have a good one, it's something that I really enjoy doing, something I can see my progress in."
Foltz said she also gives lessons to youngsters in Woodstock, and it's helped her with her game.
"It definitely makes you think about your strokes a little bit more," Foltz said. "It makes you kind of really think through what you're doing to make sure you're showing them right, because you don't want to show them the wrong thing. It kind of breaks down the game more for yourself. I think it's helped me giving lessons, because it's forced me to do the right things stroke-wise."
Foltz said she mostly just wants to have fun this season, and enjoy playing with the team.
Skarupa said she has all the tools that any athlete needs to be successful.
"She's a very driven young woman, which is excellent and that's exactly what you need in any athlete in any sport," Skarupa said. "You have to have that drive. You have to have that passion, that commitment, otherwise it's like what are you doing here? She has all those things, so it will be fun to see how far that takes her this season."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd