By NICK MATOUSCH
No matter what happened on the court during her final few matches as a Raider, senior top singles player Elizabeth Trofa maintained a calm, collected manner on the court. All she can do is get ready for the next set coming her way— there’s no use worrying about what’s in the past now.
“I gave everything I had out there,” she said about losing to rival high school Mainland recently. “I hit as hard as I could. It was a difficult match, but it was the best I have had all season.”
Trofa has shown this lighthearted maturity in all four years as an Ocean City tennis player. She’s played at a varsity level from the onset of her freshman year, comfortable enough with the intensity of the varsity level that she could compete with her upperclassmen teammates.
Trofa initially started as a doubles player and switched over to singles for the back half of her high school career, becoming a valuable asset to the team in both categories. The move paid off well — not only has the opportunity to focus her skills honed her into an excellent player, but it has also brought an above-.500 season to the Raiders. This year, Trofa won 11 matches and helped Ocean City post a 12-9 record. The Red Raiders advanced all the way to the South Jersey Group 3 semifinals before a tough, 3-2 loss to Hammonton.
Trofa also held her own against some very tough competition in the Cape-Atlantic League, which featured overall singles state champion Tess Fisher of Vineland and Emily Manzo of EHT, a two-time league championship finalist.
“I switched to singles because I like the idea that it was all on me,” Trofa said about switching from doubles.
Pressure is no enemy to her, as she is calm and collected on her own. Though she enjoys the support of her teammates during a doubles match, she revels in the feeling of being the one in total control on her side of the court.
“She keeps herself in check, and performs well consistently on her own,” said her coach, Samantha DiMatteo. “She plays with an all-business attitude, and it does her well.”
That attitude kept her on her toes — though she may be the best Ocean City has to offer, she knows it doesn’t automatically win her the game. All the private lessons, in addition to the countless practices, have turned Trofa into a confident singles player.
“She’s a confident player, and it sets the tone for a lot of people on the team,” DiMatteo about how she views her top player.
Trofa is a steady player, and takes the game and role she’s in with high regard, but doesn’t let it consume her completely. Her reasonable focus trickles down the ranks of the team, and helps the rest of the girls obtain their seasonal goals.
“The underclassmen are impressed by her skill level and keep aspiring to obtain her level,” DiMatteo added.
“I’ve learned to have fun with the sport, and not take everything so seriously,” said Trofa, confident in her role as captain. “I like to be the friendly leader and have fun with the sport.”
Trofa said she’s not sure whether she will continue her tennis career after high school, but does see herself as continuing tennis as a hobby, regardless of whether or not she competes at the collegiate level. The team will most definitely change with her graduation, as the incoming class hails a new generation of Red Raiders tennis. What Trofa hopes doesn’t leave, however, is the team culture that has developed in her time in a Red Raiders uniform.
“When I started, the team wasn’t as close — the JV and the varsity didn’t talk as much as we do now,” said Trofa. “I wanted to make sure we were all involved. We now have an annual big sister tournament, where the JV and varsity girls play intersquad matches together. It promotes friendly competition and, ultimately, intersquad bonding. We’re a close team now, and I hope that doesn’t change when I’m gone.”