Monette shines on and off the court
BY RICH PALZEWIC
PULASKI – Not only is Pulaski girls’ tennis player Lauren Monette an accomplished athlete on the court, but she is also multi-talented away from it.
A three-time WIAA state qualifier, Monette recently completed her senior campaign with the Red Raiders, which culminated in her winning the Fox River Classic Conference player of the year for a second straight season.
With a 4.1 grade-point average, she will most likely attend the University of Minnesota or UW-Madison next fall to study chemistry, with the hopes of being a pediatric dentist someday.
Monette, who plays the piano, composes music and is a member of the National Honor Society, lives on an 80-acre horse farm with her mother Lori and father Robert.
Under the tutelage of piano teacher Karen Rafn, Monette is also a three-time participant at the state solo and ensemble competition, where she has played a Class A piano piece.
“I have heard from other parents and coaches that Lauren is very honest on the court and realizes the integrity of the game is important,” said Lori Monette. “As a parent, that makes me proud and happy that fairness and respect for her opponent are her No. 1 priorities.”
With a 106-16 overall record in her four-year varsity career, Monette is one of the most decorated players in school history. As highly successful as she has been from a wins-and-losses perspective, it’s her high character and even-keeled demeanor that sets her apart.
“I’ve always taken the stance that I don’t want to get upset on the court because if my opponent sees that, it’s to their advantage,” she said. “When I see an opponent get upset, it definitely works in my favor.”
Monette’s favorite tennis player is Serena Williams, who she feels is a good role model for young females.
“Despite her little blowup at the U.S. Open, I think a lot of girls look up to her,” said a smiling Monette. “That was disappointing, but in the heat of a match, sometimes emotions get the best of you. I always tried to stay calm.”
Monette not only qualified for state during her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, but she was a two-time team captain and the only Pulaski player to win a match during the team’s state appearance in 2016 at No. 2 singles.
She was hoping for a better result this year at state but winning the FRCC player of the year lessened that sting somewhat.
“I didn’t play my best match in Madison,” said Monette, who lost in the opening round and finished the season with a 26-3 record. “Last year, I kind of forgot that the conference even had a player of the year – I wasn’t expecting to get that honor, but I was really excited to get the call from Coach Sperduto. That was probably the highlight of my junior season. This year, I didn’t think they’d give it to the same person two years in a row, but it was nice after a disappointing loss at state.”
Monette also won her first match in Madison her junior year, but then dropped a three-set thriller in the second round – a match she said was heartbreaking because she had a match point to win but couldn’t come through.
She’s played a lot of good players over the years but said Gabrielle Lee from Bay Port was one of the toughest. She also mentioned Catherine Lindsay from Eau Claire Memorial as another, and she routinely hit with teammate and 2016 graduate Molly Plummer for years, who Monette said was a big inspiration and role model to her.
Her path to being a successful tennis player started in the first grade when she first picked up a racket.
“I didn’t really start getting serious with tennis until middle school when I did more tournaments,” she said. “One of my earliest tennis memories was playing in a 10-and-under tournament in the third grade. I played the No 3-ranked player in the state and I won a few games – it was so exciting.”
Lori Monette also told a funny story that one time when both of her daughters were in the back seat of the car crying on their way to a gymnastics’ practice, she knew it was time to pick a new sport.
Lauren’s sister Nicole is a third-year student at the University of Minnesota.
Through it all, academics have held much more priority to Monette than tennis.
“With playing tennis year-round, looking back, I don’t think it was too bad,” she said about mixing school and the sport she has grown to love. “There were nights where I’d get home from tennis at 8:00 p.m. and have a lot of homework, but I always put school before anything else. I never wanted to go to school without having my homework done.”
Monette knows she’s not quite at the level to play with an NCAA Division I program, but she’s okay with that.
“I do plan on continuing to play tennis at the college level, just in a club setting,” she said. “I’m looking forward to playing for fun and having less pressure.”
Now that she has a little more time and isn’t quite so busy, Monette is keeping her options open for the rest of her senior year.
“I’m thinking about joining track in the spring,” she said. “Maybe if I can get a few friends to go out, I’ll do it, too.”