Girls Tennis Swinging into Final Rally

Holden Schmidt, Sports Writer

For many, today is just another Tuesday. But for the girls tennis team today is the culmination of a season of fun, hard work and its fair share of ups and downs.
The team won their first match Aug. 17 with a dominant 7-2 victory over Atkins. Over the next 47 days the Titans completed another 14 matches and ended their regular season with a 10-5 record, placing 3rd in the conference standings. Today the team will compete in the conference tournament hoping to be rewarded for all the hard work they’ve put into this season on and off the court.
“The girls have done a great job. We will go into the conference tournament with a good shot to go pretty far. We are not too far off the other teams that are in front of us,” assistant coach Jeff Rickert said.
For a regular season that lasted only a month and half between their first and last match, the girls faced and overcame a great deal of adversity. Nothing could better represent their perseverance than multiple cases of injuries derailing matches, or even seasons for some of the players. It was an injury suffered by one of the team’s starters, Sofia Thomay, after just five games that forced freshman Kara McLelland, into action. Despite the sudden change, McLelland responded to her new role, posting a 7-3 singles record over the course of the final 10 matches of the season.
“I’m grateful because I got to play on varsity earlier than I expected to. I feel bad for (Thomay), but I’m very appreciative of the opportunity,” McLelland said.
During a match against Davie, it was senior Vivian Do who was not feeling well, but fought through her match nonetheless.
“She was doubling over in pain and still marching on. Just a real fighter, a trooper. She’s very consistent. Just being out there, just giving it her best and showing up as a leader was cool to see,” Rickert said.
Fighting through injuries has not been the only obstacle for the team this season, as controlling what’s in their heads can be just as important as their skill on the court in determining their success.
“I would say my biggest improvement has been my attitude about the sport, and my mental game,” Do said.
It is hard to talk about the team without mentioning their No. 1, junior Samantha McEachran. She completed the regular season with a singles match record of 15-0 and a doubles match record of 9-1. During her three years on varsity she has not lost a singles match, or even been defeated in a set, against a conference opponent, and boasts a career singles record of 38-1. While McEachren has played as the No. 1 for the team, it has been Do who has also performed very well and played as the No. 2. In her second, and final, season on varsity Do has accumulated a 12-3 singles record and a 10-1 doubles record.
“Samantha has been very consistent, and it’s nice to have someone who you can really count on going into some tough matches. Samantha should be conference player of the year…Vivian has been very consistent, as well, just so steady. She’s been great. They’re (McEachren and Do) our two that have a great shot at being all conference, ” Rickert said.
For it being her final season, Do has tried to enjoy everything about what this season means to her, and what this conference tournament will mean to her.
“I think it (being my final year) brings a special significance. I loved all the girls and I’m gonna miss them when I leave,” Do said.
After a season long sprint, today will be the final time that this set of players will all head to a match together. For them it has not just been a season of unfortunate injuries and adversities, but a season of overcoming and accomplishment. During the conference tournament there will inevitably be more hardships, but if their regular season has been any proof, this team will rally and try their hardest to end their season on a championship note.