Freshman Phenom: Unity's Berger among IHSA tennis elite - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Freshman Phenom: Unity's Berger among IHSA tennis elite

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Nikita Berger went (19-5) as a freshman playing as an independent player representing Unity High School. Nikita Berger went (19-5) as a freshman playing as an independent player representing Unity High School.
Berger was the only non-senior from the Springfield sectional to advance to the state tournament in singles. Berger was the only non-senior from the Springfield sectional to advance to the state tournament in singles.

QUINCY, IL. (WGEM) -- Unity High School doesn't have what most would call an official tennis program, but they do have one of the best players in the state.

Nikita Berger, who is only a freshman, competes as an independent, playing against larger schools, programs, and mostly upperclassmen.

"My uncle and my three cousins did it, and they won state championships," Berger told WGEM Sports.

"So my parents decided that I could do it too."

Nikita's father Cliff has a family background in tennis and was able to get her into tournaments this season playing as an independent, where she has racked up an impressive (19-5) singles record.

"I have a twin brother and his daughters won eight state championships between them in doubles and singles in tennis," he expressed.

"So we know what you need to do to win at a high level."

While Berger has burst on to the high school scene, her resume had already been building.

This past summer Nikita and her sister Larissa, who is only in Jr High, advanced to the Quincy City Tournament doubles championship playing against college competition. 

"They both play the USTA circuit, so we've gotten a lot of practice in and these girls work hard, so the success will come," said Cliff Berger.

"I just try to play the best that I can," Nikita added.

"If do that I'll probably win unless they're a lot better than me."

This past Saturday four players advanced to the IHSA state tournament from the Springfield sectional, three of which were seniors along with Nikita, the lone freshman.

"I kind of see them as how they play, age doesn't bother me," she expressed.

"They don't seem like they're seniors, so that part isn't intimidating."

The next step for Berger is the IHSA state tournament this weekend in Chicago, where all players are grouped into just one class unlike other sports in Illinois, making the field much more challenging.

Her father, who also is officially her coach, says that consistency has been her strength throughout the season and that will be the key in the Windy City.

"The ball in front of her is the one she's hitting," he said.

"Don't worry about the score and if she's fighting hard, playing hard, and scrambling for every ball, she'll end up just fine."

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