Maggie Federhofer decided to try tennis for the first time during her senior year of high school. With tryouts soon on the horizon, she turned to YouTube tutorials to teach her the fundamentals of the game.
Three years later, Federhofer was recognized as one of the top six players within the SLIAC for Webster University. She said she watched YouTube videos because she knew it would be a resource she always had access to.
“I would watch specific videos about different shots and then go to the courts to test it out,” Federhofer said. “I’m very competitive so when I officially decided that I was going to play tennis, I knew I needed to work hard to earn a spot on the team.”
Federhofer said she did not watch a specific player, rather, she wanted to get a feel for the sport in general.
Federhofer has been named to the All-SLIAC First Team in 2017-2018 and Second Team in 2018-2019, despite picking up on the game later than most. This season, she posted a 4-1 record in conference games in singles sets and 3-0 in doubles.
Women’s Tennis Assistant Coach Kaylen Kress said that Federhofer’s work ethic and natural talent allows her to expand on skills, and add new ones to her repertoire quickly. She said that this allows Federhofer to be a better leader as well.
“Maggie allows herself to be uncomfortable in order to grow, which is great leadership and shows the new players what hard work looks like,” Kress said.
Federhofer said she never actually imagined she would be would be playing tennis in college, even with those accolades.
“I walked on the team the summer before my freshman year,” Federhofer said. “I think my competitive drive is the reason that I have gotten this far in my tennis career because it drives me to work hard every time I’m on the court,” Federhofer said.
Elite play proved important this year as the Gorloks lost four seniors from last year’s 12-6 team that advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament. This includes SLIAC Women’s Tennis Player of the Year Monica Behrle.
Teammate Madison Watts said Federhofer and teammate Liz Gerger bridged the gap between new teammates and returning ones. During her first year, Watts called Federhofer a dark horse and surprise to the team, given how new she was to the sport.
“I don’t think the returners last year really expected her to play as well as she did, but she came out the first week of practice and put us in our places,” Watts said. “I think what has really contributed to Maggie’s success, outside of her great work ethic, is she is one of the most coachable players I have seen.”
Similar to her success as a Gorlok tennis player, Federhofer was able to transition quickly in high school.
In just her first year, she was recognized as an honorable mention for the All-Metro League Honors in tennis at Lutheran South High School. It was in high school where she said her confidence began to increase.
“I think after I had my first big win in a singles match in high school is when I felt comfortable playing,” Federhofer said. “Even at the collegiate level, I still don’t think I’ve mastered the sport, but that’s one of the best parts is that I can learn so much more every time I play.”
As a sophomore, Federhofer ranked second on the team in singles wins, posting an 8-6 record. In doubles matches, she led the team to a 9-6 record, including a six-game winning streak to end the season. She said she preferred singles despite success in both singles and doubles.
“I enjoy singles more than doubles, but recently I have been more successful in doubles. I prefer singles because of how mentally tough you have to be and also the different types of players you encounter,” Federhofer said.
The Gorloks finished the season with a 7-9 record, ranking them third within the SLIAC division.
Next season, Federhofer and Gerger will be the oldest returning players as juniors. Still, the coaching staff is excited about the opportunities the two will have in 2019-20.
“Maggie and Liz have built up their confidence and that is clear in how they handle themselves on and off the court,” Kress said. “As they are the oldest, I expect that they will lead with integrity. I’m also confident in the current freshman, they have show time and time again how quickly they can adapt, change and grow.”