New leadership role ahead for Walls

first_imgWisconsin women’s soccer player Cara Walls has a knack for standing out against older competition–not just in her collegiate career as an underclassmen, but at the prep level too.Starting in eight grade, she began practicing with Wauwatosa East’s varsity team, her future squad, in a very rare occurrence for prep sports. It was here, practicing and holding her own against players sometimes four years older than herself, that Walls’ understood she had some serious talent.“I realized, ‘oh, I am playing with these girls who are older and better and I’m doing well,’” Walls said. “That is what made me realize I wanted to be really good.”Walls might have had another unfair training advantage growing up. Her older brother Tony, who she often played against, is a professional soccer player for the Chicago Fire in the MLS.Even though they aren’t passing back and forth in the backyard anymore, Cara says seeing Tony succeed helped motivate her to improve as she grew up.“Seeing him be successful made me want to be better,” Walls said.After spending her first two years in high school playing for only her club team, Walls saw success come in spades during her prep career. As a senior for Wauwatosa East in 2011, Walls was named conference player of the year, team MVP and first team all-area.She also helped lead her club team, FC Milwaukee, to a U18 national title and was given an award for being the championship’s leading scorer.Freshman McKenna Meuer, her high school club teammate and current Wisconsin teammate, says one thing that hasn’t changed about Walls, who she called “one of our best forwards that creates so many opportunities for us,” during the years is the fact that she understands what it takes to succeed.“One of the best things about playing with Cara is knowing that you have a dominant forward who always wants the ball and is just always in the right place at the right time,” Meuer said. “That is something that is really important for a forward, which is what allows her to score so many goals.”That right place, right time instinct has lead Walls to widespread success during her underclassmen years with the Badgers.As a freshman in 2011, Walls led the team in goals scored, netting nine – the most by a first-year Wisconsin player since 1997 – on her way to becoming the first freshman since 2001 to lead UW in that category. Walls also had a knack for scoring in the clutch, leading the team with four game-winning goals. For her efforts, the young forward was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and named the conference’s freshman of the week three separate times.And forget a sophomore slump. Walls followed her fantastic freshman year with an even better one in 2012, scoring 10 goals and 21 points, leading her team in both categories. Named Wisconsin’s Offensive Player of the Year, Walls continued her knack for clutch scores with three game-winners and three multi-goal games. She also created more opportunities than when she had as a freshman, recording 26 shots on goal compared to her 19 in the previous season.Now entering her junior year of eligibility, Walls is growing as a leader during the team’s spring scrimmages, Wisconsin head coach Paula Wilkins said.“She is becoming more of a leader, but she is not what people thing of when you think of a typical leader, yelling and cheering,” Wilkins said. “She is someone who feels responsible for creating opportunities for the team and has an impact on the team.”And with next year’s squad likely to be a young one, it’s a necessary transition for one of the team’s most proven players. As the team says goodbye to numerous seniors, new shoes need to be filled, and Walls is looking to fill some of those.With both a “natural knack and technical ability that makes her more and more challenging to defend” according to Wilkins, Walls could be the key to seeing if the Wisconsin team will be able to improve in 2013 after losing in the NCAA tournament’s first round to No. 3-seeded UCLA. “Next year she is going to be one of our most dynamic and most effective players,” Meuer said. “The fact that she is going to be a leader is only going to benefit our team.”last_img read more

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Caroline Wozniacki crashes out at Australian Open, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams cruise through

first_imgWozniacki crashes outYulia Putintseva bt Caroline Wozniacki 1-6 7-6(3) 6-4 – Caroline Wozniacki went out of the Australian Open after a stunning collapse in her first round match against Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva. Woziniacki, a former world number one, looked in total control as she claimed the opening set of the match for the loss of just one game, and still seemed a likely winner as the second set drifted towards a tie-break.But world number 76 Putintseva claimed the breaker to force a deciding set, by which point Wozniacki – who had treatment on her ankle during the match – appeared exhausted in heat so intense the hot weather rule almost came into play. The world number 18 lost her serve in the opening game of the final set, and despite fighting back she lost her serve once again at 4-4 as she left a Putintseva lob when she could easily have smashed. That gave the Kazakh another break, and she served out for a spot in the second round.Djokovic crushes ChungNovak Djokovic bt Hyeon Chung 6-3 6-2 6-4 – If there was any thought that Djokovic would try to ease his way into the Australian Open, he put that speculation to rest in his opening match in Melbourne. The Serbian looked every bit as good as he did in last year’s dominant campaign, serving well, returning as good as anyone around and driving Chung around the court for three sets.Djokovic absolutely crushed the Korean, out-playing his opponent in every facet to start off the tournament with a straight set victory. The No. 1 seed is searching for his six career Aussie title, and he couldn’t have started his tournament any better.Serena starts with routine win Serena Williams bt Camila Giorgi 6-4 7-5 – Williams wasn’t at her best in her first match since last year’s U.S. Open, but she was plenty good enough to make relatively easy work of Giorgi. The American wasn’t at her best, or even dominant, but she was always better than Giorgi. An early break was all she needed to take the opening set and while the second set wasn’t as easy for her, a break at 5-5 was the separation she needed to take the match. Williams won’t be thrilled with her play, or that it took her nearly two hours, but Giorgi was a tough draw and the American was always the better player so, all in all, it was a solid day at the office for the No. 1 seed.Nishikori dominates KohlschreiberKei Nishikori bt Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 6-3 6-3 – Nishikori looked extraordinarily sharp in his first match of the tournament, rolling to an easy first round win. Nishikori broke the German four times, and was 50% on break point opportunities, but his serve proved to be the difference at Hisense Arena. The Japanese not only won every service game, he never even faced a break point. With such dominance on the serve, he had no problem dispatching Kohlschreiber in less than two hours.–Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @Joy997FM. Our hashtag is #JoySportslast_img read more

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