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Notre Dame doubles duo Vita Galati and Suna Mungee hoping to go out with a bang

Notre Dame senior doubles partners Vita Galati, left, and Suna Mungee earned Class 2 All-State medals in their first trip to the state tournament last fall. Photo by Jay Forness

Even though they first became doubles partners during their sophomore season for Notre Dame’s girls tennis team, seniors Vita Galati and Suna Mungee have known each other practically their entire lives.

The members of last year’s Class 2 All-State doubles team first got aquainted in grade school and both had the same tennis trainer growing up. However, Galati and Mungee became even closer and “clicked” as a team their sophomore campaign when they started playing together.

Galati has been involved in tennis ever since she was five years old, while Mungee picked up the sport and played on and off till she was 14, which was when she really got serious about tennis.

“They were kind of switching things around for a while, so when we got to play together we were both super excited,” Galati said.

The two describe themselves as puzzle pieces by complementing each other’s play to form the doubles team they make up today. Vita went into detail about how they do just that.

“I love my forehand, and she has an amazing backhand,” Vita explained. “I love being at the net volleying, but she’s great at the baseline.”

Mungee added, “We’re both pretty good servers. We’re very opposite players, and we have really good communication together because we’re friends outside the court. We know how hard to push each other and what to say to each other to get us out of a mental block.”

Last season was the first trip to state for Galati and Mungee, where they took eighth place to bring home all-state medals. Enthusiastically in unison, they both described playing in the state tournament as being “so fun.”

“When we found out we were going to go, we were literally just excited to go,” Galati said. “We didn’t care how we were going to place — obviously we wanted to win — but just had fun and tried our best.”

Mungee added, “We weren’t event walking into state thinking we had to get a medal, and we placed eighth without really being in the mindset [to earn a medal] – now what could we do this year while being in that mindset [to place at state]?”

For this fall, both players have been focusing on mastering the angles of which they hit the ball. This is because they want to better control the ball in order to move their opponent around the court the way they want.

“[Taking eighth at state] was unexpected,” Galati laughed. “I know we’re a pretty strong team, but knowing that’s what we did last year and how hard we worked this summer — and how hard we’re working this season — I think we can really go back and do a lot.”

Something that separates these two from other doubles teams besides their talent level and chemistry is that they know not to be serious for the entirety of a match. If one were to watch them, they can see Galati and Mungee sharing a smile or laughing between plays.

“I know that if I’m serious for an entire match, then I get into this mental state, and if I mess up then I feel like I’m the worst player in the entire world,” Mungee explained. “When we’re joking around and still having fun, it makes the team atmosphere so much better. At the end of the day, I want to have fun.

“We both know how to calm each other down, which is such a big thing because if you mess up, you’re like, ‘Oh! It’s my fault.’ For us, it’s like, ‘It’s OK. You know what you have to do.’”

Aside from their dominance on the court, another way Galati and Mungee lead the team is by cheering on their fellow Bulldogs whenever they’ve completed their own match. Vita said team spirit is something that’s key for this squad, especially if they want to bring home Notre Dame’s first district championship since 2020.

“Having a ‘cheer squad’ just makes a world of difference to hear clapping if you had a hard, long point and then you end up winning,” Galati explained. “Or if you need encouragement after losing a point.”

The Bulldogs former co-coaches Donna Ryan and Linda Ruddy were the ones who put Galati and Mungee together, and they actually now have a new head coach in Pershard Owens for their final season. Both players agreed they’re lucky to have Coach Owens and that the entire team is much better with him at the helm.

“He’s definitely a lot tougher than we’re used to, but we definitely need it because that’s going to make us that much stronger,” Mungee said.

Another way the Bulldogs head coach is improving this year’s team is by giving them the confidence that they can compete with a team like the reigning back-to-back Class 1 State Champions Kennett. Notre Dame nearly defeated the Indians last Tuesday, but Mungee suffered an ankle injury and had to forfeit for the Bulldogs to fall 5-4.

“I was low key surprised that we did that well,” Galati laughed. “We just have to keep the mindset that it’s a new year, and we can do new things. Coach Owens is definitely pushing our team to a level that we didn’t know we could reach.”

Last season before Galati and Mungee earned all-state medals, Notre Dame fell to St. Pius X one point shy at 5-4 of winning a Class 2 District 1 Championship. To hopefully end the two-year drought of not winning a district title, the Bulldogs will also be relying on players like freshmen Erika West and Caroline Galati, and sophomores Mary Tyler Cox and Harper Raffety.

“We definitely want [a district championship] because we’ve worked hard for it, and I think personally we do deserve it and should win it,” Mungee said. “We just have to keep supporting each other and hyping each other up the way we have been.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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