By Gail Wood
Two years ago as a freshman, Bailey tried out for Black Hills High School’s tennis team. She was a rookie in the truest sense.
“She had never played tennis,” said Barbara Weatherby, Bailey’s mom and biggest fan.
She had never even picked up a racquet as a kid. But that didn’t matter. It didn’t take Bailey long to convince her coach Greg Bert that she’s got talent. She quickly became her team’s No. 2 singles player as a freshman and took over the No. 1 spot last year as a sophomore. Forget about the tennis lessons, the private instructions from sixth grade up. And forget about the year-around club play. Just hand Bailey a racquet and get out of the way.
“She’s a good, all-around athlete,” Bert said as he watched Bailey warm up for a match. “She’s got all the tools. And she’s really easy to coach. I think her strength is her self-confidence.”
Bert will occasionally go to her during a match with a tip. And Bailey will just nod her head.
“She’ll say, ‘Oh, I know. I’ve got this,’” Bert said with a smile. “She can figure things out. She’s good at thinking on her feet.”
In the fall of Bailey’s freshman year, she did another first. She turned out for volleyball and made the varsity team at Black Hills, again proving that she’s a quick learner. Although she is quiet, soft spoken, she’s a competitor.
“I like playing against other people and like going against people,” Bailey said when asked what she liked about tennis. “It’s fun.”
Bailey has always had this “let’s try this” attitude. Any sport that involves a ball, she’s tried it. She’s played T-ball, soccer, softball, and volleyball. And she’s tried swimming, diving and drill team. So, when the spring of her freshman year rolled around, she asked her mom a question.
“Can I turn out for tennis?” Bailey asked.
And without any expectations, Bailey’s mom bought her a tennis racquet and she turned out, not knowing what to expect. But that’s always been Bailey’s approach with everything. And whether she wins or loses, she keeps the same approach – even keeled. No highs. No lows. No tears.
“I feel like I’m the luckiest mom in the world,” Barbara said as she watched her daughter and only child warm up before a tennis match. “She a great kid all around. She gets along with everyone.”
As Barbara puts it, there’s just no “drama” to Bailey. No typical teenaged outbursts – just this steady-as-she-goes approach to life. And that doesn’t just apply to sports. As an “A” student, Bailey also takes care of business in the classroom. As for life-long ambitions, this teen with adult maturity already has a list of what she wants to be when she grows up that includes an anesthesiologist, a veterinarian and a pediatric doctor.
“Kids love her,” Barbara said. “I hope she does something with kids. She’s just amazing with kids.”
And she’s not too bad with a tennis racquet in her hands. While Bailey’s been the top player on her team for the past two years, Bert is hoping she takes another step this year.
“She’s a good player,” Bert said. “My goal for her is to get to state this year or next. It won’t be easy.”
Bert knows what it takes to get there. He’s been coaching tennis at Black Hills since the school opened in 1998. Nine years ago, he took a couple of years off from coaching the boys team so he could watch his son, Ryan, play.
“It’s been really fun. They are very competitive and have been to state a number of times,” Bert said. “I’ve had some really good players. Bailey is just the next one up. She’s a good player.”
Playing No. 2 singles for the Wolves behind Bailey is Hope Johnston, a sophomore who transferred from Castle Rock. Brittany Ryser is playing No. 3 singles. Johnston is pushing Weatherby in practice.
“That’s going to help Baily and help Hope,” Bert said. “I’ve got three good singles players. Our strength this year is singles. In the past, it’s been doubles. But this year I’ve got three good singles players.”
Since the fall of 2012, there’s been two things you can be sure you’d see at a Black Hills volleyball and tennis match. First, there’s Bailey at outside hitter on the volleyball team and in the spring she’s on the baseline hitting down-the-alley shots in tennis. Then there’s always Bailey’s mom, cheering and supporting.
“She comes to all my events,” Bailey said. “I definitely appreciate that.”