ALLENTOWN Pleasant Valley tennis player Madison Olexson has come a long way in the past year.
In the District 11 Class AAA Singles Tournament on Friday, Olexson got a chance to experience what the next step in her journey could look like.
Olexson ran into powerful Tuquyen Pham of perennial tennis power Parkland. Pham, the No. 7 seed, rolled to a 6-0, 6-2 victory in the opening round of the 32-player, single-elimination tourney at West End Racquet, Swim and Fitness Club.
"This was a great expereince for Madison," said Pleasant Valley coach Mark Allison. "Last year at this time, Madison was playing No. 3 doubles. This year she made the leap all the way up to No. 1 singles for us. That's a big jump. But she has done a great job of handling the position."
Olexson had a hard time generating many winners in the early part of the match against the hard-hitting Pham. But after getting blanked in the opening set, she regrouped and played a much more competitive second set.
"Madison is only a sophomore and this is her first time at Districts. I think you could tell that she was a little bit nervous in the first set," said Allison. "I thought she did a nice job of settling down after that rough start.
"In the second set, she won a couple of games and took her to duece in one or two other games. I was proud of how she hung in there against a really tough opponent. It would have been easy to hang her head after the opening set, but she bounced back and played some nice tennis."
Olexson, who was the only Pleasant Valley player and also the lone player from the TIMES NEWS coverage area in the AAA tournament, entered the match with an impressive 11-5 regular season record. In addition, she posted a third place finish in the Mountain Valley Conference Tournament.
"Madison had a tough draw," said Allison. "She was playing one of the best players in the tournament.
"But playing tough competition like this can't do aything but help her in the future. I'm pleased with how she battled today and how she played all season."
Olexson is part of a very young Pleasant Valley team that featured another sophomore, Kara Urland, at the No. 2 singles position.
"We don't have a senior on the team this year," said Allison. "Our starting line-up was comprised of six sophomores and three juniors so the future looks promising."
It appears that the future is bright for both Olexson and the Bears. Their journey might have run into a bit of a detour on Friday, but the road ahead definitely appears clear.