Just as impressive as her current run of success is the way senior Annie Horn carries herself. Always smiling, the Denver native shines on and off the court thanks to a remarkable degree of consistency. We really don’t want to jinx it, but Horn is on the type of roll that has rarely, if ever, happened in the history of Concordia University tennis.
Last week Horn captured a breezy 6-0, 6-0 win over her counterpart from Kansas Wesleyan at No. 2 singles. The streak lives on.
“To be honest, I don’t really notice,” Horn said. “It is an individual sport when you’re out there competing and it’s you and the other person. But when it comes down to it, you’re not focused on your own win if the team’s not winning.”
(Whispering voice) … Pssst, Annie Horn has won 14 singles matches in a row. She’s grown a lot from the freshman that was thrown to the fire at the No. 1 spot in 2015. She went 4-11 that season during a year of learning and adapting. It clicked last season when she went 15-4 (13-2 at No. 2 singles) overall and did not endure even one GPAC singles or doubles loss. Based on available records, Horn’s 15 singles wins are very likely a school record for a single season.
Even better, Horn has a team-first attitude. Similarly good, she has seemed to master the art of allowing opponents to fall into her trap.
“Annie is a coach’s dream,” said fourth-year head coach Joel Reckewey. “Consistency is the No. 1 thing that makes her tough on the tennis court. She never quits. She never gives up and she doesn’t beat herself. She puts a lot of balls in play. That style of play puts a lot of pressure on her opponents. She’s really good at getting other players to play her style of game.”
Part of what has allowed Horn to thrive is the atmosphere she’s grown to love while being immersed in the Concordia community. She’s come to appreciates the differences between Seward and her hometown Denver, a major metropolitan area. Talk to Horn for even a little bit and you understand why a close-knit, every-body-knows-everybody type of setting suits her perfectly.
For Horn, a college visit to Concordia convinced her to choose the Bulldogs over another opportunity at a rival GPAC school. She described everyone as being “so sweet” during her stay on campus. Horn arrived in Seward after graduating from D’Evelyn Senior High School, a school of similar size to Concordia, in terms of number of students.
“The Denver aspect compared to here is kind of weird,” Horn said. “Lincoln is nice to have close because you still get a little of the city feel. But I love small town Seward. I love that you can walk down the street and a professor is watering their garden. Everybody knows you and you see them at Walmart any given afternoon. I just love that small town feel.”
Compared to the size of a football roster, tennis also offers a bit of a small town feel. Like it or not, members of the team get to know each other real well through hours of practice and many van rides to road matches. Fortunately, these Bulldogs like each other a lot. That’s evident when you see social media posts from team members. They enjoy coming up with different kinds of goofy team poses, especially after wins.
The teams that laugh and pray together, stay together.
“We hang outside of matches and practices because we enjoy each other’s company. We’re all friends,” Horn said. “We all just get along well. Outside of tennis is the big thing. We go to chapel together. We just have that base outside of tennis so when we’re on the court it’s even more fun. You get to play the sport you love with your friends. We genuinely love each other and support each other.”
Her care for teammates and her play on the court has Horn deservedly feeling blessed as she stands at the beginning of her senior year. She’s no longer that intimidated freshman. She’s a leader.
“Annie’s a role model,” Reckewey said. “She’s had a lot of success at the top of the lineup. She wants to be a leader for this team. She lets her racket do the talking. A lot of girls look up to Annie based on what she’s doing. She’s very composed and under control at all times. I’m looking forward to seeing her senior season and what she can do.”
If the last season is any indication, it will be a year to remember for Horn, who has aspirations for a career in business marketing. She’s not going to wish away her senior year, but she prepared herself for post-grad life with an internship as a marketer within a CPA firm this past summer.
As a Scholar-Athlete and winner on and off the court, Horn has the look of someone with a bright future. As for right now, the present is hard to beat. So is Annie Horn on the tennis court.