Sophomore Debra Streifler is currently dominating the tennis
courts with a 10-match winning streak in singles.

This may be the result of Streifler’s dedication to
practice. For the sophomore, practice involves stretching, jogging,
footwork drills, singles practice, doubles practice and a warm
down.

“Sometimes after classes, and homework, I don’t feel
like going to practice,” Streifler said. “But I do go
because I love competing. I am proud that my hard work in practice
is paying off on the court.”

Motivated by competition, Streifler works hard and remains
focused on improving her game.

But collegiate competition has not always been her motivation.
Debra’s older sister, 25-year-old Becky Streifler, ignited
her love for tennis.

“I started tennis because my sister played and I needed to
do everything she did,” Debra said. “After she quit to
join school plays, I stuck with tennis.”

Though Becky did not continue her tennis lessons, her legacy
continues through to today.

“I was never good at tennis, but Debra was,” Becky
said. She definitely has the athletic genes in the
family.”

Becky, who attended the University of Wisconsin and is now a
nurse in the Chicago area, is proud of Debra’s
determination.

“Tennis for Debra has gone from recreation to a way of
life,” Becky said. “I look up to her, even though she
is my little sister.”

Another quality that Becky admires about Debra is her ability to
motivate others.

The Streifler house in Highland Park, Ill., was only big enough
for one tennis star, and Debra was it. Cultivating this talent was
difficult for her early on, as she was often compared to her
sister. But Debra’s mimicking of her sister would not last
for long. When Becky quit tennis, Debra found athletic camaraderie
with teammates.

One teammate in particular that Debra really clicked with at
Highland Park High School was freshman Lindsey Goldstein.

The girls formed a tight bond and went on to win the Illinois
state doubles title in 2002. Coming to Michigan, Streifler met her
current doubles partner, senior Kim Plaushines.

“I just met Kim last year but we meshed well,”
Streifler said. “In tennis, I’m the baseliner and Kim
attacks the net. We compliment each other.”

Streifler has become flexible in her playing style and still
shines. A “recreation” that the sophomore began in her
sister’s footsteps has become a friendship-building,
self-motivating sport that allows her to walk her own path.

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