Casually playing tennis with family and friends was how Orange Lutheran senior Isabella Jackson enjoyed the sport when she was younger. Then as an eighth grader, she began investing in formal coaching, all with the intent of attending her local public high school and playing for their tennis team.
But after visiting OLu’s campus for an open house event, Jackson’s parents thought she might find a better fit as a Lancer. She began training with OLu tennis program head coach, Flavio Rueda, who helped her develop her game to compete at the high school level. And she found a home in OLu’s Missions Program, a place where her heart for service and outreach could connect her with the local community.
“I love OLu,” says Jackson. “It’s been really awesome.”
As a doubles player for the Lancers, Jackson’s passion for tennis consists of equal parts competition and leadership. As such, the 18-year old admits that the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown nearly a year ago was a difficult time for her, not only as an athlete, but as a person. Finding access to open courts was inconsistent, and tennis was inadvertently pushed aside.
“It was a struggle to maintain the motivation to play, especially being so exhausted by everything else,” says Jackson.
Now with her senior season in full swing, Jackson’s focus is on her teammates. Her hope is that the next several weeks of matches provide a way for the team to not only play safely and competitively, but also build a stronger bond.
“Even if there isn’t a win every day, I want to make sure that everything that we had for that match was put out on the court,” says Jackson, “that we worked our hardest…and maintained a positive team spirit together.”
Jackson’s role as a team captain puts her in the perfect spot to be able to champion these efforts, and she is working hard to leave a legacy of confidence and inclusivity within the program.
“Isabella is one of the most positive, upbeat and influential players on our girls team,” says OLu tennis assistant coach, Lindsey Motis. “She does a great job of connecting with all the athletes, at both the varsity and JV level. She is hard-working and a great leader out on the courts, as well as in the classroom.”
Jackson also serves the OLu community as a member of the Creative Worship team, and volunteers with Serving Advantage, a nonprofit organization started by teammate Natalie Rodriguez, OLu junior Jacob Eusebio and Servite junior Andy Loughran that helps children with special needs develop a love for tennis.
She is proud of how she and her teammates have represented OLu on the tennis court and how she has grown the last four years as an athlete and a child of God.
“Having my relationship with [God], I know that the whole of my person isn’t in tennis,” says Jackson. “It’s always helpful having perspective and knowing I have the Lord and I have my family.”
With interests in entrepreneurial business, nonprofits and mission outreach, Jackson is considering heading up the coast to Westmont College. She is grateful for her parents and the strong female figures in her life, including her mother, aunt and grandmother, who have all been inspiring mentors in her spiritual walk.
“She is amazing and I love her and I feel thankful that I have a woman like that in my life,” says Jackson of her mom. “Since day one she has continually prayed over me and been there for me. I’m so thankful for that, and I feel like she has taught me how to go to God and pray about everything.”
To learn more about Isabella watch "The Walk" by clicking HERE!