2018 Girls Varsity Tennis: Off to States!

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The 2018 Girls Varsity Tennis Team’s experience in the MHSAA state tournament

The 2018 South Lyon East girls varsity tennis team’s season will go down in the record books. On May 17, 2018 the girls made history at the Regional Meet by being the first tennis team ever from SL East to qualify for the State Tournament which they competed in on June 1, 2018 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

This achievement is following a very successful season for the girls.  They kicked off the season taking the cake against foe teams like Milford and South Lyon which the team usually came defeated against in previous years. They also tied for first place with Hearland High School at the Hartland quad tournament, meaning another trophy for the cabinet!

Coach Mackenzie Rapp, assistant coach, exclaimed,”I would say the season leading up to states was exciting. The girls worked so hard and had great league matches.”[KGVID]https://beastnews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/IMG_3497.mov[/KGVID]

At Brighton High School the girls competed at the regional tournament. The end score put them as runner-up to Holly High School who took the first place spot. More importantly,the team won 19 points, one more than the 18 points needed in order to qualify for the state tournament.

The state qualifying team after regional tournament at Brighton High School

The monuments victory came with a mix of emotions from all the girls.

I think everyone was pretty nervous but played it off well. I mean this was the first time our school had made it to states as a whole…makes it  just feel like an even bigger accomplishment…we kinda went into states just happy to be there and I think that was the overall attitude for the season as well”, said Sadie Storm, varsity tennis caption and second doubles player as well as junior at East, about the mood going into the tournament. 

“Practice, practice, practice. They needed to come prepared,” said Rapp about the plans for after regionals. Even though the season is typically over after the regional competition, the girls gained an extra two weeks of practice after a busy season in preparation for the state tournament. 

On May 31, the girls made their way to Kalamazoo from South Lyon. After the two hour bus ride they headed straight to the courts at Kalamazoo College for more practice in order to prepare for the next day.

Summer McEvers,varsity caption, first singles player and, junior at East, remembered the venue, “The atmosphere at states [Kalamazoo College] is very serious and it makes you want to win even more.” 

Everyone on the way to Kalamazoo the day before the state tournament

Stowe stadium, the stadium where the courts are located at Kalamazoo College and the venue for first, second, and third singles players, includes 11 bright blue tennis courts and seating for 3,500. Fourth singles and all doubles teams played at Western Michigan University at Sorenson Tennis Courts, a venue just as large with 10 courts.  Both something the girls weren’t used to from playing at East.

The girls practicing at Stowe Stadium right after making it to Kalamazoo on May 31

The next day, bright and early at 7:00 a.m., the team made their way back to the stadium after dinner and lots of sleep. The first priority on the list after arriving; getting players taped by the athletic trainer.

Rapp concluded, “The few complications would be injuries. [By] the end of the season,[the] girls have played lots of tennis on  hurt wrists and a bad ankles. The girls fought through and finished to the end though.”

The team at the player meeting at Stowe Stadium right before the matches began

With 21 teams of almost 12 girls on each team, the stadium was completely packed which can be pretty hectic.

Storm recalled,”The Venue of States was kinda hectic, there was a lot of teams I had never heard of before but it was refreshing cause we weren’t playing the same teams we had all season. It was hectic, intimidating, but in a good way. Like hey! We made it here & we’re doing to do fine! Like it was a good feeling.” 

Four singles and all the doubles teams at Western Michigan University with the athletic director, Greg Michaels, Jeff Rhodes, head coach, and Mackenzie Rapp, assistant coach

Unfortunately the girls did not win their matches at both sites. But, although disappointment was wide spread, assistant coach Nikki McEvers recollected,”Everyone played well. Being at a big tournament with the top teams is tough when it’s the teams first time. It’s difficult when the team is split at two different venues to stick together. Everyone was disappointed they didn’t go further, but also happy they were there for the experience.” 

While the girls may have been disappointed to not have moved further in the tournament, everyone was extremely proud of each other and how the team preformed against some amazing teams.

After the tournament, the team was disappointed to have to leave so early, but at the same time extremely happy that we made it to states,” said Summer McEvers.

All the girls at the player meeting at Stowe Stadium before the tournament

After the tournament the 2018 girls tennis season officially closed. The girls are looking forward already into next season and how the state qualification will impact 2019.

Storm said, “I really feel that next season will be a good one… I feel like because we made it so far we’ll start to get more respect from other schools and other sports teams so they just don’t think we’re just some lame tennis team.We have some very talented athletes on our team, and I hope people begin to realize that. I hope we have an even bigger team next year cause it really is such a great sport, and you meet so many new and fun people that really show you that being on a team is worth it.”

Pictured: Sadie Storm, Maddy Sexton, Summer McEvers, Ally Basch, Isabella Satti, and Natalie Kraemer; After the Heartland Quad win for the team

The 2018 state finalist roster is listed below:

State Team line up

Finally, the team was very grateful to all the coaches that kept the team moving throughout the long season.

Storm said,”Coaches Nikki, Jeff, and Mackenzie helped push us to become a better stronger team. They constantly encouraged us and helped us practice through countless drills and games and they always made it a lot of fun. Although there were days where we would wish practice would end early, it overall helped us a lot in the long run.” 

The state qualifying team after regionals with assistant coaches, Nikki McEvers and Mackenzie Rapp, and head coach, Jeff Rhodes