The Wolfpacker

May 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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A BY RYAN TICE s a rookie last season, NC State women's tennis standout Joelle Kissell played at No. 4 singles, where she tallied a 19-5 record, and No. 3 doubles, where she went 11-4. This spring, the sophomore moved up to the lead spot in both singles and doubles, but her game didn't skip a beat en route to earning All-ACC honors for the Wolfpack. would miss on it, but I really worked on it. There were a few matches in the summer I might have won had I been playing the way I used to, but by the end of this year I felt more confident serving than last year. "I was also really pushing myself to be- Sophomore Joelle Kissell Has Stepped Up For Women's Tennis "The improvements she's made are tre- RISING TO THE OCCASION come more aggressive. It paid off so much in my matches in the spring because you can't win with defense, you have to go out there and be the one attacking if you're mendous," head coach Hans Olsen said. "She started last year as soon as the sea- son finished, working on different aspects of her game. She had a good record in singles and doubles, but didn't end up nationally ranked in either one, and she really went to work on her game in the summer. "She worked on a more aggressive style, a more offensive game plan, and changed some technical things. She came in this year and really became elite, in terms of her level of fitness. She worked really hard and it paid off." going to compete at the No. 1 position in the ACC." Kissell has ascended to national rank- ings of No. 30 for singles, where she was 15-9 through April 29, and No. 59 in doubles with partner Ashley Miller. She has put herself in a great position to be selected for the NCAA Singles Champi- onships, which will be held May 23-28 in Athens, Ga. Olsen and his star pupil both admit that she wouldn't be in the posi- tion that she is now without the overhauls made this past summer. "I was very proud of her for that be- cause I know that was hard for her; she's she is selected to the NCAA Champion- ships as a singles player — 64 players are chosen for the field — she will mark the program's second individual national qualifier in a row, and just the third ever. That, coupled with Kissell's work ethic and presence on the courts, will be huge for the program moving forward. "First, Joelle is such a Wolfpack per- son," Olsen explained. "She's not only into her team, but you'll find her at the volleyball games, the soccer games, the softball games, she just loves NC State. When recruits come in to visit, if they spend any time around her, they find out very quickly that Joelle is NC State through and through. "She's got to be one of the youngest in her career to make the NCAA Tourna- ment, and I think that's very exciting for our program. She's not a senior, she's not finishing her career with this great improvement, she's doing it in her second year, which is really exciting for our team, our recruits and everybody else." "She wants to play the best players in the country. She always sees each match at No. 1 as an opportunity, and that's just her nature." ■ Women's tennis coach Hans Olsen That isn't to say there wasn't an adjust- ment for Kissell, who recorded wins over eight ranked opponents this spring, while she moved to the top spot in the lineup. The changes to her game resulted in a cou- ple of losses over the summer in matches she would normally win, but everything fell into place during the spring season. "At the end of last year, coach and I talked about what type of player I wanted to be," she said. "I told him I wanted to make NCAAs, and he told me about how we can get there — he said I had to work on my second serve and stuff like that. At first, I didn't like having to work on a second serve, and it was hard when I Kissell has ascended to national rankings of No. 30 for singles, with a record of 15-9 through April 29, and No. 59 in doubles with partner Ashley Miller. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS a very competitive person," the coach said. "I think that was key, just for her to focus on her game and really think about the things that are going to take her to the next level. She kind of put winning and losing on hold for the summer, and that mentality really made a huge difference in her game. "What she has done this year is a tre- mendous accomplishment, and there couldn't be a better reward for the right person. You love to see the person playing No. 1 singles and doubles earn All-ACC and probably make the NCAA Tournament because of how hard they work. That's what every coach wants, and Joelle's work ethic is tremendous. I couldn't be more proud of those accomplishments that she's earned this year, and she has so much more ahead of her because she is young." Kissell gives the Pack an All-ACC honoree for the third straight year, and if Olsen said she never backs down from a challenge and loves to compete against the best competition possible. She played every match this year at No. 1 singles. "Joelle's mentality is that she wants to play the best players from whichever team we play against," he said. "She wants to play the best players in the country. She always sees each match at No. 1 as an op- portunity, and that's just her nature." Kissell echoed her coach's assessment. "I definitely enjoy the whole aspect of competing," she said. "I enjoy going out there, playing a girl I've never seen be- fore, and trying to figure out what works against them because every person is dif- ferent. You have to be able to adapt to their style and try to use your style against their style. That really is fun for me, trying to figure out how to beat the person across the net." ■ MAY 2012 ■ 67

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