Claire Burns ranks second academically in the Wilmington High School class of 2022. She enjoys science but considers herself a history buff of sorts.
Burns has used her affection for both U.S. and world history to be the best she can be on the tennis court for the Lady Hurricane.
“I think there is a lot we can learn from history, good and bad,” said Burns, the reigning two-time SBAAC American Division girls tennis player of the year. “I like to sit in class and just listen to whatever we are learning about that day and try to imagine what it was like then and immerse myself in it.”
On the tennis court, Burns tries to learn from her losses, though they are few and far between. She was 29-6 last season and is second on the WHS all-time girls tennis wins list as the current season started. Allison Brooks is tops with 85 wins; Burns has 80.
“When I lose a match I allow myself to be emotional about it for a time but then I try to look back on the match to see what I can learn from it,” she said. “When it comes to any sport, you have to learn how to deal with both winning and losing.”
Burns lost in last year’s first round state tournament match to North Canton Hoover’s Tess Bucher 1-6, 2-6.
“I think about the loss at state every once in a while,” she admits. “It was very emotional for me because it meant that a really amazing season was over. However, it does not bother me more than any other loss would. I played hard and lost to a really amazing player. Sometimes that happens. The loss at state has not affected me or my game negatively and I was able to learn a lot from the match. Despite the fact I lost, my experience at state was a very positive one. I was thankful for the opportunity to play there and for my teammates, school, friends and family who supported me.”
Despite her success with a racket in hand, Burns has not decided if she’ll play tennis collegiately. Whether she plays in college or not, Burns has not chosen a major but is interested in criminology, psychology and nursing. She also is considering a career that involves working with animals or traveling.
“I have gotten emails from many colleges about playing for their program,” she said. “I have officially visited a total of five colleges and four of the five have the possibility of me playing tennis there. There are also a few other colleges I did not visit but am looking at … just not for tennis.”
WHS tennis coach Doug Cooper said wherever Burns lands post-WHS, she’ll be an asset.
“She’s a great teammate,” Cooper said. “As a freshman, she was the best player on the team. About the third week of practice, I told her in front of the team that even if she were terrible at tennis, I would still want her on the team because of the positive energy she brings to the team.”
Burns makeup goes far beyond the tennis court. She’s the WHS senior class president and the National Honor Society vice president. She serves small groups at the Wilmington Church of Christ. Burns was a basketball camp counselor at Butler Springs Christian Camp. In the past, she’s been involved in show choir and theater at WHS. Adding to the list, she has started playing pickleball with her family.
For now the focus is squarely on tennis and her Lady Hurricane teammates.
“I really want our team to win the league championship again,” said Burns. “If we win this year, the other seniors and I will have won it all four of our years at Wilmington. I also want to make it back to state this year. I am very excited to get the opportunity to make it back and I know that I will enjoy the journey to get there.
“I want to have a fun senior year with my teammates. I have always been supported and loved by them and I am excited to get back out there again this season. I love it when we do team bonding and just enjoy spending time together. No matter what happens this season it will be successful to me if we all have fun and enjoy what we are doing.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports