WARSAW – Warsaw’s big loss will be a big gain for the Kalamazoo College women’s tennis program.
That’s how much senior star Ella Knight has meant to the highly-successful Tiger tennis team according to her coach.
“We are going to miss Ella greatly after this season,” said Warsaw coach Rick Orban. “She’s just a special kid. A great kid. Kalamazoo is getting a true team player. Ella is all about doing whatever will help her team the most. It’s not about her.”
“She has been so dedicated to this sport even though she was also a four-year swimmer and also played golf and ran cross country earlier. She worked extremely hard in the offseason on her game.”
Knight has been a standout on the court for the Tigers. She has helped Warsaw win three straight sectional championships and a pair of regional titles the last two seasons. She is a three-time All-NLC selection and was also All-District in both 2016 and 2017 and All-State Honorable Mention as both a sophomore and a junior.
“I took a tour of the school and figured out that it was somewhere that I would be interested in going,” Knight said, noting a family friend introduced her to Kalamazoo College. “I talked to their coach and he said there was a spot on the team if I wanted to come up there.”
Knight played at No. 2 singles a year ago as the Tigers posted a 14-4 mark and won the program’s 17th straight sectional title and a regional crown before losing to South Bend St. Joseph in the semistate for the second straight year. She was at No. 3 singles as a sophomore in 2016 when Warsaw fashioned a 12-6 mark.
Knight has helped her deep and experienced team to a 2-1 start this spring. The Tigers opened Northern Lakes Conference play with a 3-2 win over rival Plymouth indoors Tuesday night as Knight rolled to a 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 2 singles play.
Knight has also excelled in the pool as she helped the Tigers win a pair of sectional titles. She was a swim team captain her senior year as well as the Mental Attitude Award Winner and Academic All-State.
“I’m so excited that I started swimming my freshman year and got better at it to swim in sectionals,” remarked Knight. “That was a really big cap to my senior year was to do both sports. That definitely helped me out physically to have swimming ahead of tennis, to be in shape coming into the tennis seasons.”
Knight is more than just a talented athlete. The well-rounded young lady carries a 12.02 GPA on a 12-point scale while enrolled in many dual credit and honors courses. She has also been active off the court in National Honor Society, the Octagon Club and volunteering with the Baker Youth Club among many activities.
“Ella just has an incredible personality,” added Orban. “Her sincerity is truly who she is. She responds so well to coaching and never quits. She’s very strong physically and is very mentally tough, too.”
Knight joins a Kalamazoo program that competes at the NCAA Division II level and is a member of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Hornets are coached by Mark Murphy.
Knight, who is the daughter of Laura and Chris Knight, is looking to study biology in college.
But first, she wants to enjoy another strong year on the courts as the Tigers try to have a long postseason push for the third straight year.
“I’m just trying to go into every match with the mindset of winning, taking things one at a time. I hope to have a good end to the four years of tennis.”