If you had 10 seconds to say whatever you want to a tennis ball, what would you say?
“Sorry I hit you so hard,” said Captain Grace Bingham ‘15. “But, thank you so much for bouncing in the court and thank you for giving my team immense success and . . . you are such a beautiful color.”
True, they would not have won games without this basic necessity, but much more than tennis balls contributed to the record-setting success of the girls’ varsity tennis team this season.
After losing seven seniors last year, the two captains initially worried for the future of the team. Soon, however, they realized their concerns were futile.
“Grace and I sat down in the beginning of the season and talked about how we could make this season different, how we could make it great,” said captain Sarah Metz ‘15. “We wanted to be positive leaders.”
Their positive leadership led directly to team success.
With contagious energy at every practice, unwavering effort in every game, and a driving will to run every perimeter road workout hard, the Lady Toads leaped through the season with relative ease.
They achieved victories in every single regular season game, with the exception of one non-league game against Carpinteria, finishing with an unprecedented 12-0 league record and the title of Frontier League Champions.
It wasn’t until the postseason that they finally faced greater competition. In the postseason, both their skills and mental strength were put to the test like never before.
On this bigger stage, emotions ran high. They faced opposing fans who jeered from the bleachers and players who combated every call. This was no longer the “friendly” Frontier League.
Still, they braved the tumultuous waters in their path and breezed through round after round of playoffs, beating Savanna 15-3, Sierra Vista 14-4, Alta Loma 11-7, and Orange 15-3.
The team seemed unstoppable heading into the CIF Southern Section Finals. Already, they had made school history by advancing further and finishing with the best record (19 – 2) of any girls’ tennis team in Thacher history.
Maranatha High School was the final obstacle to becoming CIF Division 5 Champions.
In this last match, with a school’s support at their backs, they fought hard, played well, and kept the score close. In the end, though, this Maranatha obstacle proved just too high to surmount. The final score was 7-11.
Thacher had no fans sitting and cheering them on, so the players were left to fend for themselves and motivate their teammates. Although they lost the game, they never lost their pride – pride in an incredible season marked by growth, success, and an everlasting bond between teammates.
Despite the loss, the team recognized that they had accomplished beyond what they had originally thought they could at the start of the season. Not only had they finished 2nd in the CIF-SS Division 5, they had done so in a division of 86 teams.
During all-school assembly, Coach Pete Fagan called his team, “the best team in the history of Thacher and in the history of coaching. These girls had great chemistry, tremendous spirit, and wonderful leadership.”
He also attributed this in large part to the leadership of his team captains.
“We were so cohesive and connected. We didn’t just have one or two really good players, but an entire team of talented individuals,” remarked Sarah.
“I agree,” said Grace. “There was just something different about this year. We became a family. There were people who stayed late at practices and people who came early. It was a very special season.”
Contributions by Griffin Somaratne ’18
All Photos by Finn Keilty ’18