When Brittany Ellingsen was a freshman, she played on talent and talent alone.
As a sophomore, Ellingsen added skill, knowledge and experience to her game. The new attributes lifted the Skyview girls tennis player higher, and Ellingsen captured the 4A Greater St. Helens League district singles championship.
But despite being a two-time state qualifier by her junior year, Ellingsen feels like she still has more to accomplish. Goals she has yet to reach; heights she has yet to climb.
So, after spending the period between her freshman and sophomore seasons defining and fleshing out her game, Ellingsen added one more essential component heading into this season: confidence.
The top female player for the Storm said she was physically and mentally prepared for what is already shaping up to be a highly competitive season.
And while Ellingsen has her sights set on repeating as the 4A GSHL district singles champ, she also wants to do more than just qualify for the state tournament this time. She wants to place.
“I haven’t been able to do that the past two years,” Ellingsen said.
To Ellingsen, making a mark at state is purely a mental game. Almost every athlete who qualifies for the tournament possesses the talent and skill required. But the ability to rise above and knock off the competition is often more of a battle within the mind than a purely physical one.
After her impressive sophomore season, Ellingsen has a much tighter grasp on the mental side of the sport.
The Skyview standout suffered a right ankle sprain late in the year. The initial diagnosis was not promising, and Ellingsen was told that she would not be able to play in the district tournament. But Ellingsen worked as hard as possible to strengthen her ailing ankle for a tournament she had long waited for, and she eventually defied medical predictions.
About a week before her first district match, Ellingsen began hitting practice shots. Soon thereafter, she was district champ. At the core of her return: a sharpened mental focus that allowed her to overcome any obstacle in her path.
“That felt amazing,” she said.
Ellingsen’s mind-over-matter approach left a strong impression on Skyview coach Mark Ray. To Ray, Ellingsen is more than just an impressive young tennis player — she is an ambassador for the sport.
Ray said Ellingsen gives everything she can on the court. Sometimes, Ellingsen unleashes a “rhino slam” that “releases all those demons.” But in between games and on non-match days, she is as friendly as possible with fellow GSHL girls tennis players — even top rivals from schools such as Camas and Mountain View.
“She knows everybody else in Southwest Washington that plays tennis,” Ray said. “She’s on first-name basis with everybody. So, any rivalries are created out of the fact that they’re on opposite sides of the net.”
Ellingsen’s off-the-court comfort with some of her fiercest rivals is also a key factor in one of her newest attributes: balance. After training during the offseason at Club Green Meadows to improve her physical fitness, Ray said there are fewer holes than ever in Ellingsen’s game. And that should spell trouble for her rivals — and friends.
“She’s in a good place,” Ray said.