Cathedral’s Beard looking for one more tennis state titlePublished 12:01am Thursday, May 3, 2012
NATCHEZ — Cathedral School senior Madeline Beard will have mixed emotions May 7 when she steps on the tennis court at the state championship tournament, she said.
Her competitive drive will have her focused on bringing home her sixth state championship, but she will also experience sadness knowing that it will be her last competitive tennis tournament, she said.
“It’s really sad sometimes,” Beard said. “I get sad thinking about not playing tournaments. I will miss the competitiveness.”
Beard said competition is what caused her to fall for the game she loves, after her parents introduced her to the sport at the age of 4.
“I’ve always been a competitive person, and I started playing tournaments at 7 or 8 (years old),” Beard said. “I liked the competitiveness and wanted to keep it going.”
But Beard’s talents are not limited to the tennis court, and she will trade in her racket for books when she heads to Louisiana State University next fall.
Beard’s 4.3 GPA and 26 on her ACT earned her an academic scholarship to her dream school, and she decided to choose LSU over tennis offers from a variety of schools including West Virginia University.
“I entertained the thought (of going to West Virginia),” Beard said. “I was interested, but I feel like I wouldn’t be as happy. LSU is my dream place.”
Beard said LSU has one of the top tennis programs in the country, and she feels that intramural tennis will be enough for her with her busy school schedule.
She said she wants to study dentistry or architecture in college.
For now, Beard has her eyes on the state tournament and bringing home her sixth-straight state title, which would surpass the achievements her older sister, Davis Beard, accomplished in her decorated tennis career.
“I’ve won every year I played,” Beard said. “My sister won five, but she never got six. There’s a friendly competition, and I really want to win the last one.”
Beard said she is undefeated this season, and her biggest opponent is often herself.
“Honestly, I’ve had temper problems,” she said. “Being on the tennis court is the most frustrating thing I’ve ever had to do.
“In football, frustration and anger helps you, and you hit harder. But in tennis, I just have to put that behind me, and it makes me better in the long run.”
Cathedral tennis coach and Madeline’s mother, Marla Beard, said tennis has challenged her daughter mentally.
“Tennis is unlike most sports, because you are out there alone,” Marla said. “It’s very mentally demanding on every point that’s played.”
Marla said her daughter used to get aggravated with herself, but she has learned to control her temper.
“She has matured a lot,” Marla said.
Marla said she is not sure if Madeline’s intelligence helps or hampers her play on the court.
“Obviously you have to think on your feet,” Marla said. “But I’m not so sure sometimes thinking can be a detriment, and you think too much.”
Madeline said she has played singles and doubles for Cathedral this season, but she prefers singles.
“Tournaments are built for singles,” she said. “If you want to get to advanced (levels) you have to focus on singles.”
She said she is proud of the way the Green Wave has played this season and is looking forward to most of the team participating in the state tournament.