Before second grade, Mary Madigan used to just frolic in the playground at Foster Avenue Park, while her older brother played tennis with their dad.
Then, she turned 7. And things changed.
“My dad took me to play tennis for the first time when I was 7,” said Mary, a Sayville High School senior who this week is signing a letter of intent to play tennis and study at Hofstra University.
“After seeing my dad and brother play so much, I wanted to be part of the action, and I wanted to eventually beat my dad,” she added.
Mary was in seventh grade when she first joined the high school’s varsity tennis team, earning a starting singles position during her rookie season. As a sophomore, she won the 2018 Division II Girls Varsity Tennis Singles Tournament, then placed second in 2019.
At the moment, she said, she is ranked 24th in New York state.
As successful as she has been on the court, tennis has helped her succeed just as much, if not more, in life, Mary said.
“Through tournament experiences and advice from my coaches, I’ve been able to learn about valuable life lessons, like the importance of honesty,” she said. “With tennis being a sport where you keep your own score and make your own line calls, it’s important to hold onto your morals because it can be easy to lose sight of honesty when you feel like the result of the match is on the line.”
“I’ve learned it’s important to stay true to yourself because tennis is a true test of your character,” added Mary, a captain of the varsity team who is one of at least eight Sayville senior girls set to play DI or DII college sports.
Mary — a National Honor Society and Science National Honor Society member — also recognizes that tennis, together with a strong academic background, can be a gateway to success in higher education.
“Academics have always been important to me,” she said. “With this in mind, I knew I’d want to attend a school that is known for its academic programs, not just its campus life.”
At the high school, Mary is president of the Key Club, vice president of Tri-M Music Honor Society and a member of Peer Leadership.
“I am so excited to attend Hofstra University — because it will allow me to further my education at a highly regarded institution and play tennis at a high level,” Mary added.