The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Girls’ tennis chasing history

In a flurry of heated practices and sweaty workouts, the girls’ tennis team gears up for a competitive season. With matches lining up one after the other, the girls have a busy road ahead.

During the previous five years, the Bruins have won five consecutive Class 2 state championship titles, a feat only achieved by two other high school girls’ tennis teams in Missouri: Ladue Horton Watkins High School in Ladue and St. Joseph’s Academy, a private high school in St. Louis.

By winning a sixth title, the team would set the new record for most consecutive Class 2 state championship titles. The road to state, however, is not going to be easy, coach Ben Loeb said, as he believes the opposition will be bringing its best game.

“If we win our districts, we are going to have a very tough sectional in the next round, and then hopefully we’ll make a run at state,” Loeb said. “We lost some key players to graduation last year, and we’re going to face some good teams coming up.”

The starting line up last year included two seniors, Eleanor Fay and Abigail Still, who played second singles and fifth singles. Without the players who graduated from the team along with the tough competition ahead, Loeb believes grit and perseverance are crucial to any form of match play. He wants the girls to implement a strong mindset along with the physical consistency of the game.

During practices, the Bruins challenge themselves through tiebreakers, usually only used in extremely close matches, to apply the pressure of putting the ball in play with no second chances. In order to exercise consistency throughout the length of a match, the girls also utilize safety to avoid unforced errors like hitting the ball into the net.

“I think we’re making progress on being mentally tougher in match play,” Loeb said. “We’re not there yet because we’ve just been playing with each other, but now we’re going to get the opportunity to play good other teams, and then we’re going to really find out where our resiliency is.”

Sophomore Abbie Sivaraman will start on the varsity team in just her second year and believes mental strength is key to success.

“This season will be harder than [past] seasons,” Sivaraman said. “Our sectional is more difficult, and the Final Four will be more difficult if we make it there. We have to work on resilience and being able to believe in ourselves.”

Getting enough competitive play and creating game day stress is a major focus. The goal is to stimulate actively intensive match play in informal practices.

“Sometimes playing sets and tiebreakers doesn’t really show the real pressure of how match day could feel,” Sivaraman said. “I think we have to find a way to stimulate pressure and learn how to thrive off of it in order to have and sustain a competitive mindset.”

While this is Sivaraman’s second year with the team, senior Mary Francis Hose has played for four years. Hose agrees with Sirvaraman about the aspect of involving competitive play to prepare for the psychologically difficult side of any tennis match.

“I think the biggest thing for us to do is get a lot of competition,” Hose said. “Compared to a lot of other duels we play during the season, the teams we play at state are very skilled. We need to [handle] stressful situations [better].”

A veteran of the team, Hose witnessed the Bruins advance in various ways and through each title, but this year in particular Hose feels the girls team progressed in how they approach the game.

“Already I think we have seen a lot of strategic development in terms of doubles positioning and the proper shot selection for singles,” Hose said.

Though the road ahead is littered with obstacles, the team is preparing its hardest. Adopting the slogan ‘embrace the journey. . . together,’ the girls have a strong sense of team spirit and bonding.

“We have a really good sense of community,” Sivaraman said. “A lot of us still hit together outside of tennis season, so we’re pretty close, which helps us with. . . keeping each other motivated on and off the court.”

What do you think makes up a dynasty? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Contributor
Anjali Noel Ramesh, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Anjali Noel Ramesh is one of two Editors-in-Chief for Southpaw and Bearing News. She enjoys playing tennis and traveling. In her free time, she listens to music and spends time outside.

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