Howland’s Elisco learns from district trip in 2015

For some, a special skill comes naturally. While many have to try their hardest (and often fail) at a sport, or whatever it may be, others just seem to catch on right away.

For Isabella Elisco, a senior tennis player for the Howland Tigers girls tennis team, the sport of tennis was something she succeeded at from the first time she picked up a racket.

“My mom signed me up for a (tennis) lesson when I was 7 years old, and on the first day, I got all of the shots down right away,” Elisco said. “They (instructors) said that no 7-year old had ever done that.”

Elisco said that she saw potential in her game and decided to keep going from there. It also didn’t hurt that her mom used to play tennis as well, so perhaps it was already in the younger Elisco’s blood from birth.

At any rate, Elisco has used those talents to become one of the best girls tennis players in the area, as recently demonstrated by her qualifying for a Division I district tournament for the second year in a row.

Elisco advanced out of the sectional tournament at Solon, qualifying for Thursday’s Division I district tournament at Akron’s Springside Racket and Fitness Club, where she’ll need to win two matches to qualify for state.

For Elisco, her goal was to make it back to district, and she used last year’s experience, where she lost in the first round, to get her there.

“I gained a lot of experience (from last year) and it taught me to focus on the other players (better),” Elisco said.

“I was very excited (this year), I didn’t know how hard the draw for sectionals would be. I’m really happy to be where I’m at, win or lose next week.”

It should come as no surpise that Elisco is back in the district again, as the senior has been the team’s No. 1 singles player her entire career. According to Howland coach Paul Newlove, Elisco was one of four co-No. 1’s that Howland used back in her freshman year in 2013.

Since then, however, Elisco has taken full control of being the Tigers’ No. 1 player, and has never looked back. Right from the start, Newlove knew that he had a special player in his grasp.

“(My first impressions were that) she (Elisco) was gonna help us for a long time,” Newlove said, laughing. “She’s more confident (in her game this year) and she hits a little harder because of that confidence.”

Elisco, who is currently being recruited by the likes of John Carroll, Mount Union, and Xavier University, believes that she has lived up to the lofty expectations placed upon her during her Howland tennis career.

While she has had plenty of on-court achievements thus far, including her aforementioned district tournament appearances, it’s the relationship that she has built with her Tiger teammates that stand out the most to her.

“I want to say (my greatest memory at Howland is) our girls’ tennis scavenger hunt that we do annually,” Elisco said. “This is the closest that the team has been (in my four years here). We hunted and we made blankets and stayed out until 1 a.m.”

While this week’s district tournament will feature plenty of tough competition, Elisco’s experience makes her well-prepared for the pressures of postseason play. No matter how the tournament plays out, one thing is for certain, Elisco will always be a natural when it comes to the sport of tennis.