Springfield, Mo. (Ozarks Sports Zone) -- State tournaments are nothing new for Bolivar’s Emma Samek.
In her first three years at Bolivar, Samek helped the Liberators advance to the Class 1 Final Four in 2010 and 2011, as well as making it to state in doubles in 2010 and 2012.
But, entering the 2013 season both Bolivar head coach Jennifer Nutt and Samek had to adjust to changes after the graduation of Abigail Porter, Samek’s partner in 2012.
“There’s always an adjustment period at the beginning of the season because the girls get out of their daily tennis routine,” said Bolivar head coach Jennifer Nutt. “Emma actually started the season with a different partner, but I changed it after a few matches to find a better match.”
The change resulted in Samek partnering with sophomore Macy Hall.
The two hit it off immediately.
“Emma and Macy played very well together and had very little adjusting to do; each could feed off of each other as well as encourage and coach each other throughout matches,” said Nutt. “Once they got comfortable with each other there was no question they could go far because of how well they were able to work with each other.”
Samek and Hall finished as the Class 1 – District 9 runner-up, qualifying them for the Class 1 – Sectional 5 tournament where they also finished second, good enough to qualify the duo for state.
Once at state, Samek and Hall caught fire after losing their Round of 32 match, winning three straight on the consolation side before ultimately finishing sixth.
2013 saw Samek cap a four-year career at Bolivar in which she advanced to state doubles three separate times, doing so with a different partner in each instance.
“It says a lot about who she is as a player,” said Nutt. “She is versatile in every aspect of the game. She is able to adapt as well as coach her partners. She makes her teammates feel comfortable when she is playing and she’s encouraging and receptive to advice.”
Although Samek’s career at Bolivar is over she will have a lasting impact on the Liberators, specifically in helping Hall improve her game.
The junior to be will likely take over Samek’s No. 1 spot. She will also be counted on to lead the 2014 Liberators.
“Macy definitely benefited from playing with Emma,” said Nutt. “It’s always good to play with and against people that are going to make you better and Emma offered that. What Macy has been able to do and who she’s been able to learn from over the last two years really makes me excited to see what is ahead of her. She has already stepped into a leadership role for us this summer. I couldn’t be more thrilled to see that from a junior.”
Dorial Green-Beckham is now an Oklahoma Sooner.
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