BY: LEANNE KILLMEYER
Carmela Mangini, a tri-sport athlete, is a senior here at Cary High School. Carmela was sad to be finishing her final season of tennis, but luckily, her season got extended a little longer. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Cary High Lady Imps Tennis team went to Conference and competed against seven other schools. “I wasn’t expecting anything to come out of conference, and I went into the tournament with that mentality, but as I played and progressed, that mentality soon changed.” Carmela was not undefeated in the tournament, in fact, her one loss motivated her to come back stronger in the next round—the round that ultimately earned her spot in Regionals.
“I was proud of myself for playing two tournaments—so double the people—to fight for a fifth-place spot. That showed me that I could actually do something with tennis.”
Carmela Mangini is the first Cary female tennis player to go to regionals in seven years, and this is only her fourth year playing.
When Carmela was young, she played tennis with her dad for fun—just hitting the ball back-and-forth. This sport wasn’t completely new to her, but it may as well have been. Her friends are the reason she joined the team; she didn’t know the rules or techniques—only how to hold a racquet. To get a better understanding of how the sport works, she played a few matches freshman and sophomore year. “Everyone has to start somewhere, I started near the bottom.” Junior year, things changed. Carmela got the hang of the sport and began perfecting hitting and placing techniques, thus making the game a lot easier. “I moved up junior year to about fifth place on the ladder of six and it was really an accomplishment because I hadn’t been on the ladder before. That gave me the motivation to keep playing and working hard.” She was even awarded the Most Valuable Player award at the End of the Year Banquet. The summer before senior year, Carmela and her teammates played constantly on the court in their neighborhood; her skills continued to develop in the off-season. Then her season started—“I remember feeling pretty confident, but I didn’t think that I actually had the ability to go far.” During this last season, Carmela was able to move up to number two on the ladder.
“I think the real thing that kept me going was my teammates; I have gotten to know them a lot over the past four years. We all started together as freshmen, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. With them, I was always had a good time on the court.” Carmela’s teammates, coaches, parents, and friends are so proud of her. “Even if I don’t progress further past regionals, I still think that this experience has inspired me to keep working harder no matter what sport I’m playing or what I’m doing.” Carmela sees herself taking up tennis recreationally in college. “The sport has taught me so much, I can’t imagine stopping now.”
“This season has been one of the best I’ve ever had and I can’t imagine myself not playing in college. I went into the sport not really knowing anything, but by the end, I’ve grown so much. Tennis matches take a long time, so I also learned how to balance sports with academics and friends. It’s taught me many valuable habits and skills. It’s just been so great and I’m so lucky that I got to experience it with a lot of fantastic people along the way.”