By Corey B Elliot
— While the future may be bright, the Ben Davis Giants girls’ tennis team has plenty of positive things to look back upon from this past season before they take the court next year. The Giants finished with a 6-8 match record during a season that had plenty of obstacles to work around.
Throughout the year the Giants struggled with injuries and mistakes that come with inexperience. The top two teams in Ben Davis’ sectional had fallen to the Giants during the regular season, but nagging injuries and an unexpected illness made things a lot more difficult as the Giants entered the postseason.
“We played our opening round sectional match not playing as well because we had one girl playing with mono and another playing with a stress fracture,” Ben Davis coach Kevin Vanderbush said. “Our three singles, Savannah Wills, played the second half of the season with that stress fracture in her shin and four of the seven girls were playing varsity for the first time this year.”
Wills fighting through an injury for half of the season was unfortunate, but it ultimately paid off. The sophomore finished the year with the most individual wins on the team in singles matches and that garnered several team-voted awards.
“Savannah was voted by her teammates as the most improved and given the extra effort and most consistent award and this was just her first year playing on varsity,” Vanderbush said.
Returning Wills and the other three underclassmen carries a lot of expectations to continue getting better and top this season’s success. As any offseason goes, next year’s success will be determined by the work put in between now and next spring.
But there are other variables that cannot be controlled. One of those is the Giants’ conference opponents as playing in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference always guarantees formidable talent.
“Next season is not until the spring so a lot will be determined by how much the girls play in the offseason,” Vanderbush said. “We will have to three girls to replace the three seniors we lost to graduation and a lot will also depend on how much experience our competition will return.”
The Giants graduated No. 1 singles player Natalie Drummond and one of their No. 1 doubles players, Alyssa Montgomery. That leaves the door open for one of the four returning to seize a special opportunity to become a leader. Thanks to the two seniors, there is a lot more light at the end of the tunnel than in previous years.
“Natalie and Alyssa contributed a number of wins over the last four years and in that time our average wins went to eight per year,” Vanderbush said. “Previous to that the program had been down. We were averaging only two wins per year. They have helped raise the bar back up for the girls continuing on in the program.”