The valued role of the women’s tennis seniors

They won’t be remembered like The Big Three of basketball, and they definitely don’t get the same recognition as other athletes at Marquette. They won’t go down in history as top scorers or all-star players, and their career records aren’t numerically impressive.

But seniors Maggie Wilson and Elly Strother will be remembered by the women’s tennis program as leaders who stood out and made change, whether or not a racket was in hand during their four years at Marquette.

They both walked onto the team as freshmen and have never looked back. Freshman Kelly Barry said the seniors were able to provide a lot of insight as she began her collegiate tennis career in the fall, since she arrived at Marquette not knowing what to expect.

“They both have really great attitudes and bring a lot of energy to the court,” Barry said.

Head coach Jody Bronson noted that Wilson holds the top GPA for the team and has been an academic inspiration for her teammates.

“I think they represent what we expect our student athletes to represent,” Bronson said. “They know how to work with people. They know how to work hard.”

Wilson has worked to volunteer and raise money for Colleges Against Cancer as well as A Cure for Kirby, the foundation her family started to fund research for Sanfilippo “B” Syndrome, a genetic disorder Wilson’s 18-year-old sister Kirby was diagnosed with at age 4.

Wilson brought A Cure for Kirby to Marquette, and the student athletes throughout all sports have participated in an annual fundraiser for the foundation.

“Elly and I are very similar in that we find it very important to work hard on the court while working just as hard to develop as individuals and serve the people around us,” Wilson said. “We have a great opportunity as athletes to help with a variety of charitable events, and have really enjoyed participating in Relay For Life and The Cure for Kirby Fundraiser for the Children’s Medical Research Foundation.”

The majority of Wilson’s time in competition this season came in doubles, and over the past few years her appearance on the roster was sporadic. Strother hasn’t appeared in competition since Feb. 27, with a win at No. 6 singles against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

But Bronson insists that both players’ contributions have been outstanding, whether or not they were able to earn points in competition this season and in previous years.

“They haven’t had as many opportunities in competition as some seniors get, but they have always given us everything they have. They have not shortchanged us at all,” Bronson said.

Both seniors’ work ethic has stimulated the team, and younger players seek to model their diligence.

“Elly is someone who gives everything,” Bronson said. “She hasn’t had as many opportunities to play, but that has not diminished her role or influence on the people that have been in the program.”

Barry agreed that Strother and Wilson’s dedication set an example for the other players.

“As walk-ons, they really put a lot of time and effort into the program. … They do all the same stuff scholarship players do,” Barry said. “They’re just really motivated.”

Wilson said that as a walk-on, she felt like sometimes people didn’t expect her to be able to play, but she has enjoyed working to prove them wrong.

“This year, I have been contributing to the team at the two and three doubles positions and am proud to have earned that spot on the team,” she said.

Junior Rachael Hush has worked under three years of leadership from the seniors.

“Maggie and Elly have been fantastic role models for our team. They are both two of the hardest workers on and off the court,” Hush said. “No matter what they do in life, they will always be successful.”