In 2014 tennis season, Clarke Central High School seniors Maddy Jenkins, Isobel Crain, Denise Sunta, Caroline Caldwell and Amelia DeLamater earned spots on the girls varsity tennis team, something they were not expecting or prepared for.
“As freshmen, we were kind of thrown in because we were playing four of the six lines,” DeLamater said. “We were already kind of leading which was scary because as a freshmen you are not necessarily ready to lead a team. Slowly we became known as a good team by our opponents which was even scary.”
Starting their freshman years, the girls were anxious to be part of the team. Today, they have seen themselves grow, specifically as leaders on the team.
“I think as leaders we have taken charge in making sure that everyone comes out to practice and is ready to go,” Caldwell said. “As freshmen I think we were really shy and could not really take that step to bossing everyone around. They are out there having fun too and I think that they kind of look up to us.”
Stepping up and becoming leaders has not always been easy, though. They have each faced various struggles and for DeLamater that includes a shoulder injury.
“I am not sure if I should have but I continued playing (with my injury),” DeLamater said. “I had to serve underhand for the first four or five matches and a big part of my game is my over head serve because I am tall and I would run to the net and end the point. I used to play really short and with my shoulder injury I kind of had to redo my game.”
DeLamater injury resulted in a shift in the team, switching her from doubles with Crain to singles.
“My freshmen and sophomore years I played doubles with Isobel. Doubles, half your game is over your head so I ended up being moved to three singles after that. It kind of put Isobel in a weird place because she lost her partner of the past two years,” DeLamater.
DeLamater’s injury has resulted in positives in the team including securing three singles victories and resulting in the team’s increase in confidence.
“I think as a group we have improved in our confidence,” Crain said. “As freshmen we were the little kids on the team and did not have any confidence at all. Now I think we are a lot more confident. As an individual, I have gained more confidence too.”
Through the last four years, the girls have noticed changes in their friendships as well.
“I think as a group we are a lot closer. In a way I feel like when we were freshmen and we really did know each other. We were not as friendly I guess,” Sunta said. “High school tennis is a group activity and I have met so many people through tennis. We kind of have this team bond that I can really only share with these people on the team.”