By Jake Thompson
BROWNSBURG — Ben Davis girls’ tennis coach Kevin Vanderbush says he knows playing Brownsburg each season is no small task for the Giants, but understands why it’s necessary.
Ben Davis fell 5-0 to the host Bulldogs last Tuesday night and while the Bulldogs dominated, Vanderbush saw some things he liked from his squad.
“I felt like my girls competed and at three of the five spots, we had second set improvement which is always what we’re looking for,” Vanderbush said. “After the first set’s over, they let that go and move on to the next set and make it better.
Brownsburg’s always given us trouble and they’re a very good program.”
To that end, teams rarely get better unless they take on superior competition and that’s what sharpens a team throughout a season.
“The ideal is to play a combination of matches that you can win and develop confidence and matches that you will have to compete,” Vanderbush said. “You do not want your whole schedule one or the other and I think we’ve get a nice mix. We look for a .500 season.”
Ben Davis senior Natalie Drummond battled Brownsburg’s Nicole Weisman at the No. 1 singles spot and fell 6-3, 6-2. Drummond has a shot to become Ben Davis’ all-time career leader in wins at the No. 1 slot this season, starting the year within 10 of that mark.
“Natalie’s strength is she has a lot of shots,” Vanderbush said. “If she stays at the baseline and tries to hammer it out baseline to baseline, she’s going to lose. Her strength is that she can slice, she can go to both sides, she can change the tempo and when she does that, I think she gives people some trouble. She’s at a disadvantage always playing another team’s best.”
Showing the second set improvement that Vanderbush spoke of were No. 2 and No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles.
In the longest match of the evening, lasting nearly three hours, the Giants’ Savannah Wills battled with Brownsburg senior Katie Suiter. Wills fell in a second set tie break after taking a 4-3 advantage 6-3, 7-6 (6).
“She’s very good at keeping the ball in play and is athletic enough to come down and that’s her strength, wearing people down,” Vanderbush said. “I just hope it doesn’t wear her down. She’s lost a couple of close ones that could have went either way, but she’s just a sophomore and this is her first tennis at varsity level and I think she’s doing a great job with it.”
After losing her first set 6-2 at No. 2 singles, Ben Davis junior Julia Calhoun took a 5-4 advantage in her second set over Brownsburg’s Morgan Bettner, but fell 7-5.
At No. 1 doubles, the Giants’ Alyssa Montgomery and Haley Runyon did the same as Wills in their second set. Up 4-3 after falling 6-3 in the first set, the pair let the lead slip away and was downed 6-4.
Ben Davis’ No. 2 doubles team of Jayashree Brown-Riddles and Emma Drummond fell in the first match to be finished 6-0, 6-0.
“We have four girls who did not play varsity last year,” Vanderbush said. “I’m pleased with the way they competed and I think they got better as a result of playing them.”