By Sheri Duff
Claire Stoner has a positive attitude. While most student-athletes might find it difficult to stay optimistic through injury, Stoner remained upbeat. In fact, she took it all in stride according to Champlain Valley Union (CVU) head tennis coach Amy deGroot. “Claire had the challenge of sitting out about 80 percent of the season with a bad case of tennis elbow. She is a very strong player and had she not had tennis elbow, she would have played singles,” deGroot explains. “As it was she significantly beefed up our doubles teams. And to her credit she added a second state doubles championship title to her achievement as a freshman.”
Born and raised in Shelburne, Stoner turned 18 on Feb. 13, 2013. Her family includes parents Teresa and Rick, two older sisters, Jaime, age 35, and Abby, a sophomore at the Rhode Island School of Design, and a dog named Olive.
Stoner credits her parents for her interest in tennis. “Tennis began as a family thing,” she reminisced. “I think I started playing during preschool at Kids & Fitness when I was about three years old. I just took to tennis more than other sports.”
A four-year varsity tennis player Stoner hasn’t developed a pre-match ritual. “I’m not superstitious. Besides not wearing any jewelry, I don’t do anything special,” she noted.
But there is something special about this tennis team. The Redhawks continue to dominate in tennis. They won the crown four times in five years and claimed a third perfect season in four years by capitalizing on its skill and depth.
A senior captain, Stoner commented about her strengths off the court. “I became a better leader because of my injury. Since I was out of competition, I was able to focus on each player and their individual style. I learned a lot.” Coach deGroot concurs, “Claire is a very capable leader who continually contributed to the team. I am so impressed with how Claire turned what could have been a very disappointing season into a very positive one both in terms of her superb tennis and her leadership with the team.”
“I don’t know what I would consider my greatest achievement,” she said in answer to a question. “I think it would be winning the Vermont State Individual Tournament in doubles as a freshman with Emily Polhemus and then winning another with Leah Berger as a senior.”
In addition to tennis, Stoner competed on the CVU Nordic team for three years. She also teaches tennis at The Sports & Fitness Edge, and has participated in 4H since age six. In fact, Stoner vied for ribbons and championships in fitting and showmanship and conformation as recently as 2011. “4H is wonderful. I enjoyed that experience. It was so positive.”
And there are more positive experiences ahead. Stoner has chosen to attend Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. in the fall. “I loved Dickinson immediately. It is a little bigger school than I originally planned to attend.” What’s not to love? Stoner will receive a nationally recognized liberal arts education and continue her tennis career as a Red Devil. Her college decision wasn’t as difficult as a specific area of study to pursue. “I don’t know what I want to do. I’m undecided.” Either way Stoner seems unconcerned. And so she should be. If her college experience is anything like her high school tennis playing days, Stoner is in for a highly successful four years.