Switching Courts: North tennis standout helps basketball team win conference title

Kathryn Wilson trades in her tennis racket for a basketball during the winter months.

The Columbus North junior tennis star also is a starter for the girls basketball team. Wilson has been an inside presence for the Bull Dogs this season. She’s the leading rebounder and field goal shooter for the Bull Dogs and will look to add another outright Conference Indiana title to her high school resume when they host Bloomington North on Friday.

With tennis being her dominant sport, Wilson said she doesn’t spend a whole lot of time with basketball, such as AAU in the offseason due to her focusing on tennis, but she does participate in the Bull Dogs’ team activities when her schedule allows. When basketball teams get together in June, Wilson spends a few days a week with the team for a couple of hours.

Wilson also said playing basketball before the start of tennis helps with her footwork. It also helps her feel more excited and ready to go to start the tennis campaign.

“Basketball is really fast paced. You have to be in a low, defensive stance. That is really important for tennis, too, so it really carries over,” Wilson said. “I love playing tennis, but basketball gives me a good inbetween, so when I go back to the tennis season, it gives me more of a jumpstart and more energy to start the season again in tennis.”

Wilson does explain the similarities and differences in the practicing and conditioning with each sport.

“Side-to-side movement, especially with on ball defense, you have to move side-to-side with the person, and in tennis, you have to change directions really fast,” Wilson said. “Basketball requires more conditioning, more running up and down the court. Tennis is more having quick footwork and short little sprints. Basketball is much longer and getting your stamina up more.”

In tennis as a sophomore last year, she was named All-State First Team Singles and All-District Singles. She went 22-0 at No. 2 singles last year and likely will be at No. 1 singles this spring with her sister Ashlie moving on to play tennis at Purdue.

Columbus North’s Kathryn Wilson shoots over Hamilton Southeastern’s Maine Hooks during a game in Memorial Gymnasium Tuesday Nov. 1, 2022 at Columbus North High School.

The Republic file photo

This season, Kathryn Wilson is leading the basketball team in rebounds (5.7) and blocks (0.8) per game and leads the Bull Dogs in field goal percentage at 49%. She is fourth on the team with 6.0 points a game.

“She’s gained a lot of confidence this year. A lot that comes off her tennis success as being a competitive athlete. She has that competitive edge, but also, she’s not afraid of the moment,” North girls basketball coach Brett White said. “She’s definitely one of our harder workers and one of our more competitive players, and that’s led to a lot of improvements.”

Columbus North’s Kathryn Wilson looks for an open teammate against New Albany at Columbus North, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.

The Republic file photo

Wilson said she is committed to be with her basketball teammates during the season, regardless of how many tennis tournaments she has the opportunity to play in. Wilson said the coaching staff has been very understanding of her tennis matches and tournaments that are away from basketball during the offseason.

“We encourage two-sport athletes. A well-rounded athlete is going to be one that’s going to be successful for our program. The good thing with Kathryn is, she has success at the tennis level, so that carries over into basketball. That confidence and competitive juice that she has comes over and rubs off on the other players,” White said.

“We try to be flexible. We know tennis is what she is going to play in college. We’re glad to have her in basketball. We work around her schedule in the summer and try to get in as many days out of her as we can. She’s really good about being here when she doesn’t have tennis. We know that we’re going to have her when she can be here, and we take advantage of that.”

The Bull Dogs are 11-7 this season and will host Silver Creek on Wednesday. They’ve already clinched at least a share of the Conference Indiana title and can win it the outright on Friday when they host Bloomington North.

“I’m excited, and I think everyone’s excited,” Wilson said. “We’ve been working really hard. Our team chemistry has been really good this year and I think that will really help us pick each other up and be excited for each other.”