Tennis a singular thrill for top Demon girls
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — There’s been an adjustment of sorts for three members of the Glenwood Springs High School girls tennis team this season — especially when it comes to strategy on the court.
“It’s definitely an adjustment knowing that if you’re up at the net and someone lobs a ball over you’re head, there isn’t anyone back there to get it,” Glenwood No. 2 singles player Elise Metzger said. “You are running, and I mean running, back to that base line to get it.”
Metzger isn’t the only person on the Demons’ squad who has had to make that kind of an adjustment this year. She, along with Tessa Ebert at No. 1 singles and Ivy Wight at No. 3 singles, each made the transition from playing doubles last season to playing singles this season.
And all three players have transitioned into their new roles very smoothly, with all three holding a winning record through Saturday’s dual matches played against Hotchkiss and Roaring Fork at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. It was, however, done out of sheer necessity, as the Demons lost all three of their singles players from last year to graduation.
“They are the three best players that we have on the team, and each one of them was ready to play singles this season,” longtime Glenwood girls tennis coach Phyllis Zilm said. “They’ve been getting more confident as the season has gone on, but each one of them quickly realized that if someone hits a shot away from you, no one else is going to be there to send the ball back for you.”
Ebert and Wight definitely showed on Saturday that they’ve caught on to that, with both picking up victories against their opponents. Wight earned the most convincing victories, winning both of her matches in straight sets.
She also had to prove it the most out of the three. She had to win a pair of challenge matches in practice against teammate Luise Wolleson to earn her spot at No. 3 singles, and she’s followed that up by winning her last three matches.
“The coaches wanted me to be a doubles player again because I’m really good at doubles,” said Wight, who joined Morley Perrin last season as a state qualifier at No. 2 doubles for the Demons. “I had to really prove it to them that I should be a singles player. After all that, I think I finally proved it.”
Ebert, just like Wight, said she put in a lot of time on the tennis court during the summer in anticipation of being moved into a singles slot. She and Metzger were doubles partners in the No. 1 doubles slot last season.
Ebert joined the cross country team this past fall to supplement her conditioning and training, and it paid off with what she considered a pleasant surprise of jumping into the No. 1 singles slot. Still, she says there’s a mental block that shows up from time to time when she’s on the court by herself.
“Sometimes, I like having the court all to myself,” Ebert said. “But for the most part when I’ve been training, especially over the summer, it was always one-on-one. I had a lot of practice there to go after every ball that went over the net, and it helped me to get into the position I’m in now.”
Metzger echoed some of the frustrations Ebert said she had, one of adjusting to someone not being there for motivational purposes. But like Ebert, she prepared to play singles during the summer time by playing one-on-one with her dad and even adjusting her serve, going from a top-spin serve that’s more common in doubles to more of a power serve.
Still, like Ebert and Wight, Metzger still finds herself adjusting to someone else not being on the same side of the net as her.
“There’s not quite the social aspect in singles that there is in doubles,” Metzger said. “It’s not like every shot you have someone there to give you a high five or something. You have to keep yourself motivated.”
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Fans, players and coaches on both sides of Stubler Memorial Field seemed to know it would come down just the way it did, regardless of who had the ball at the end.