The state tennis tournament is underway in Rapid City, where O’Gorman senior Danielle Sebata is attempting to cap an undefeated high school career with a fourth straight first-flight singles championship.
Danielle Sebata has matured physically and mentally since winning her first state tennis championship as a freshman.
“Definitely kept my anger under control, which definitely helps, so I’ve managed to stay positive, but I think the biggest thing is I got bigger and stronger,” O’Gorman senior Danielle Sebata said.
“Danielle’s improved a little bit every year and right now she’s playing at a high level,” O’Gorman head coach Don Barnes said.
After moving from England to Sioux Falls with multiple relatives prior to her freshman year, Sebata didn’t expect to be O’Gorman’s number one player, but accepted the challenge.
“Her first year was somewhat difficult, but she was staying with relatives,” Barnes said.
After winning back-to-back championships, Danielle’s relatives moved to Indiana prior to her junior year. She’s been staying with Bill & Theresa Townsend since, and continues to enjoy life in Sioux Falls.
“It’s definitely been different, but it’s been great. The Townsends have been amazing. I’ve known them since my freshman year, so staying with them didn’t feel awkward. It was great. I love it,” Sebata said.
As good as Sebata is at tennis, she’s just as popular off the court.
“She’s very popular amongst our entire team. Even some of the JV players, she kind of mother hens them and she’s kind of the boss around here,” Barnes said with a smile.
“I guess tennis is a really individual sport, but then having to play on a team, you can’t make it all about yourself. There are other people on the team and you can’t win by yourself. You need the other girls on the team,” Sebata said.
Sebata is 22-0 on the season, and undefeated for her career, which carries some pressure.
“I think that I have this big target on my back where everyone is going to be playing their best tennis against me because it’s like they have nothing to lose,” Sebata said.
The only thing that could top a fourth straight singles championship is a team title.
“I know we can do it. I just think we need to go out there and perform our best,” Sebata said.
Sebata plans to play college tennis. She has yet to commit, but says she’ll probably end up at Augustana.