She's just one of the guys. At least that's what Quinn Gleason and her Honeoye Falls-Lima High School tennis teammates would have you believe. But Gleason is quite special. She's a five time Section Five girls tennis champion; a three time area player of the year; third in states a year ago and headed to Notre Dame University on scholarship. Those are the reasons she decided to play for the HFL boys team this spring.
"Well my mom first mentioned it and then I started thinking about it really seriously," says Gleason. "We decided it would be the best for me competition-wise, and I was busy in the fall with my college visits, so it really worked out great."
Girls playing tennis with boys isn't that unusual. Schools in Livingston County for instance, field just one combined team. But Gleason's transfer to a boys team where a girl team exists, is unusual. The concept was successfully petitioned through the state athletic association. There have been some adjustments.
"Actually today one of the boys didn't get changed and he was expecting to get changed on the bus. Then my coach was like, 'Well, ya know Quinn is here.' So he couldn't change on the bus."
"We used to practice outside with shirts off sometimes on hot days," said HFL senior Cameron Scott. "We're not allowed to do that anymore. Coach's rules."
Scott is the senior captain of the Cougars and was most affected by Gleason's addition to the team. He was bumped from number one to number two singles. Still, no one has been more supportive of the newcomer.
"Last year we were a team of seniors," he says. "When they all graduated, we lost 75% of the team. So we knew we needed more people. When she joined, there wasn't any discussion about if it would be strange having a girl on the team. She was right in it. We're learning a lot from her. There was not a lot of adapting to be done."
The decision to play against the boys this spring is already paying dividends, although Gleason has won all but one of her matches in straight sets. She has a season ending match against highly regarded Matt Gamble of Webster Schroeder, then it's sectional and perhaps, state tournament time.
"It won't be a cake walk for her to reach states," says coach Skip Rapp. "She's going to have to play very well. She can't have an off day. Physically she'll have to be at 100 percent and things are going to have to go her way."
Still, this spring's great tennis experiment doesn't seem to have a downside, except for the boys who find themselves on the losing end of her matches.
"The boys you can definitely tell, they're a lot more mentally tough," says Quinn. "A lot of them have really good serves and they usually hit the ball harder. So it's really helping me with my game so I can handle power."
Is being 'one of the guys' making her better?
"I do think I'm getting better. It has been a great experience for me."