Girls golf looks to continue run of success, set South records


Naomi Skiles

Junior Ysabella Arrojo tees off at the Glen Club on Sept. 14. Senior Hanna Tanaka finished first in the Hersey Invite one day prior.

Emily Bauer, staff writer

Going against not one but two strong competitors at one of the first nine hole matches of the season, the GBS girls golf team had reached their biggest challenge yet, according to captain Hanna Tanaka. Taking on both Deerfield and Hersey at the Hersey Invite, the girls were facing tough competition, explained Tanaka.

Tanaka did not go into the Invite with high hopes, and planning to take the par, Tanaka says her shots throughout the match were not her greatest. Approaching the end of the course, Tanaka had reached a hole swamped with water. A bold move, Tanaka took out her driver, hit the ball, and scored a birdie. The hole was Tanaka’s turning point for the match, according to Tanaka.

“There was one hole that had a ton of water all along the left side and I decided to take my driver,” Tanaka said. “[Using my driver] was risky but it worked out and I ended up getting a birdie. It was the turning point for the nine holes.”

Meanwhile, sophomore Maria Perakis had been preparing for this match all summer, and felt that everything she had been working on came together that day. Tweaking her swing and building her confidence, Perakis says she felt strongly about her performance at the Invite.

“I had been working on making little changes in my full swing and being more confident in my puts so I could be more aggressive with them,” Perakis said. “I think it really came together on that day.”

The results were nothing short of excellent for South, according to head coach Tom Cieplik. With South holding the top two spots for the tournament, Tanaka ended in first and Perakis in second by the separation of one stroke. The Invite’s outcome boosted the team’s confidence and proved that they were ready for the rest of the season, explains Cieplik.

“Hanna Tanaka came in first place and Maria [Perakis] in second place [at the Hersey Invite],” Cieplik said. “It was just the separation of one stroke. [It was] fun to watch them duel it out in that tournament.”

Now almost halfway through the season, the team’s record is 6-1, and are not slowing down anytime soon, according to Tanaka. Last year, the girls qualified and finished 11th at state as a team. Hoping to push themselves even further this year, the team is looking to place top ten and set a new South record, according to Tanaka.

“The goal is to make state again,” Tanaka said. “For the GBS record, before [last year] only one team made it to state, and we tied their record of 11th place. So I’m hoping to beat that and get a top ten finish. It’s going to be tricky but I think it’s doable.”

The team is strategizing as much as possible in preparation for state, according to Cieplik. To prepare for the difficult competition ahead, Cieplik makes practices just as challenging as matches and allows the team to get a feel for the course by taking them to the regional and sectional sites.

“We’re going to get some practice rounds in at the regional site, and then moving forward the sectional site,” Cieplik said. “[The team will be able to] see the course, plan out what clubs [to use], when we should be aggressive and when we shouldn’t be; that’s the biggest way to prepare for [state].”

To add the extra edge to the golfers as they practice, Cieplik also describes different competitions he has introduced in order to keep up their motivation. By mixing up practice styles and keeping the girls on their toes, the team is always focused and excited to reach their end goal, according to Cieplik.

“[In] the first couple of weeks, we had match after match after match, so [to keep up the girls’ motivation], we did a three on three scramble,” Cieplik said. “Their favorite things are Chic-Fil-A and Starbucks, so we had gift cards for both at the end for the winning team. [It was a way to] shake it up a bit.”

Along with constant practice comes with a strong mindset, and Perakis stresses the importance of not giving up after poor shots. Although there will be times of struggle in the long durations of matches, it is critical to the individual golfer and the team to keep working through it and do their absolute best, according to Perakis.

“[As a team], we have to stick together throughout the entire [course] and cannot lose it after a few bad holes,” Perakis said. “All of our scores count and each one of us could really help the team, so we need to keep our mental game in check.”

Overall, golf is a sport that requires a lot of patience, and it is impossible have perfect outcomes from every game, Tanaka believes. Yet, state is only achievable if the team takes it one shot at a time and focuses on the positive, according to Tanaka.

“Golf is a process, you are not going to be perfect all the time, and there is no such thing as a perfect score card,” Tanaka said. “Golf isn’t meant to be boring, it’s meant to be fun, you’re going to have exciting shots out there and you will just have to figure out how to scramble for a better score.”