‘Love’-ing her place

Senior finds family and companionship at Southport through tennis

Senior Carlie Streit remembers her 2022 tennis sectionals match. She had through about this moment for the entire season, and with each day, the nerves continued to build up.   It was a match against her biggest rival and the match that she had been working toward all season. Uncertain about the outcome, Streit went into the match ready for it to go either way. But, in the end, Streit had won and a familiar feeling began to set in.

The feeling of confidence. 

“It’s that fact that you’re doing it for yourself and for (the team),” Streit said, “that if you get that win, you just leave feeling super confident, super proud, but also very appreciated too.”

As Streit’s high school tennis career has progressed, so has her confidence. But, this confidence isn’t just restricted to the court, it has also followed Streit into her everyday life.

Streit’s love for tennis began in third grade when she and her brother began playing. She would follow him to SMS where she would practice with him and his team. While she was too young to compete on the middle school team herself at this point, she still participated in matches through the National Junior Tennis League up until sixth grade.

That’s when Streit began to play for the middle school team, but due to an injury and the minimal amount of competition, Streit decided not to play on the SMS team for the rest of middle school, and began to play tournaments through the United States Tennis Association. 

“That’s where I think it got more serious for me,” Streit said, “rather than just playing for fun with my family and with my brother.”

Disappointingly, as Streit began high school, COVID-19 cut her freshman year and tennis season short. But, as her sophomore came along, so did a new tennis season. 

Because she already knew the coach, Anteneh Teshome, from middle school and had a strong skill set, Teshome expected her to walk onto the court with confidence. Instead Streit came into the season nervous, lacking the confidence she would later gain.

But, even through her shyness, Teshome knew what she was capable of. Throughout her whole tennis career, Teshome has always encouraged and supported Streit. Streit says that he never doubts her skills and is always willing to be there for her. 

“He has faith in me,” Streit said. “And I think that that also adds to that security and that confidence that I do get, because when I get a win, it is all me. But, he’s right there cheering me on.”

That’s why when Streit’s junior year began, instead of coming into the tennis season nervous, she came in with a new sense of confidence that she was lacking before.


Because of Streit’s interest in the mental strategies involved with tennis, she realized that the fate of each match rested in her hands as she decided where to place the ball. This sense of ownership over her matches then boosted her confidence. And, her mom Joni Streit also realized this as she watches her play. 

 No one else can win for her. No one else can lose for her. It’s all up to her. And I think that that fosters a really big sense of empowerment, when you realize how much control you have of the fate of the game.

— Joni Streit

 “No one else can win for her. No one else can lose for her. It’s all up to her,” Joni said. “And I think that that fosters a really big sense of empowerment, when you realize how much control you have of the fate of the game.”

This new confidence wasn’t just recognizable through her matches at the school, it was recognizable through her everyday life. And, it was especially apparent to her friend and former teammate, Baylee Watson. 

Watson remembers how shy Streit was her sophomore year when they first became friends. She was even nervous to order her own food or to tell people about her nut allergy. But, as Watson’s senior year and Streit’s junior year began, Watson saw a big change in Streit’s personality. 

She began to order her own food and do her own things, things that were unexpected to Watson. To Watson, these changes showed that Streit was growing as a person. 

“I think being at Southport and being on the tennis team has really helped her become an individual and express herself,” Watson said. 

So, as Streit’s senior season began, instead of walking in shy, holding back her abilities, she came into the season as captain with the confidence that tennis has given her through her time here at Southport, and with a new love for the sport and the community.

 “This has given me a leadership role that I’ve never had before,” Streit said. It’s given me a community outside of school itself (and) also away from home too where I really did just have a role, and I had a family.”