LT’s Tennis Team Reflects on the Spring Season

Charles Lachman, Editor

Unlike many other sports at Lebanon Trail, the tennis team has two seasons – a fall season and a spring season. Success in the spring season is based on individual wins and losses, whereas in the fall season, each match won goes down as a point for the high school. This year’s spring season went very well, as LT players were competing in the finals in almost every tournament, and many players brought home awards.

Not all junior varsity players on the team get to play in these matches, and not all varsity players on the team earn a spot to play in the varsity matches. Varsity coach Stephen Maupin said that while some changes can be made by coaches, the spring season lineups are usually decided by the players.

“[The players] play challenges to see who the [players] in each division are and that’s how we set our lineup,” Maupin said.

The divisions are singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. Maupin also described what he looks for in his players when determining if they play or what division they play in.

“I look for players that are motivated and who want to compete every day,” Maupin said.

Junior varsity coach Marissa Latham said that the deciding factors that determine who plays in the matches are player performance, as well as a challenge ladder. She also described what she looks for in her players when determining if they play or what division they play in.

“I look for the person that is going to continue practicing and working to make themselves better the whole season. Someone who is going to show up and be prepared to play anyone on any given day. Someone who is going to bring the best attitude no matter what,” Latham said.

As the coaches mapped out what they wanted to see, the players had to prepare as well. Although the coaches have the final say in who plays what, the players can request to play different types of tennis matches. Junior and varsity tennis player Adwaith Kumar prefers singles because of the extra options it gives the player.

“When you play doubles, the rule is to avoid hitting it towards the opponent’s net player. This means you generally hit the ball cross-court,” Kumar said. “The best part of singles is that you can hit the ball basically anywhere and play with many different strategies.”

Kumar, who tore his meniscus in the fall season, said that, while he has returned to the court, his level of play hasn’t fully recovered.

“My serves and backhands still don’t have the same power and consistency they used to have. I did okay this season but I didn’t perform as well as last year.”

During this year’s spring season, multiple tournaments were canceled due to bad weather. Kumar said that a tournament getting canceled is “very frustrating.”

“You normally plan for the school work that you’ll be missing and tournaments are really fun,” Kumar said.

Some examples of planning can include being in contact with teachers and completing assignments ahead of schedule.

Kumar, who was ranked towards the bottom on the varsity ladder this year, said that he looks forward to playing in more varsity tournaments instead of junior varsity tournaments during next year’s spring season.

“Even though I’m on varsity, there aren’t always enough open spots in the draw for me to play in varsity tournaments. [However,] the varsity tournaments are way more competitive and a lot more fun,” Kumar said.

Freshman and varsity tennis player Gauri Singh prefers doubles because doubles “points involve more strategy [than singles points.]”

“The points are much faster and heated, rather than a long rally at baseline, which is often only found in singles,” Singh said. “I can also play with a teammate of mine, which brings in another perspective on how to beat the opponent.”

Singh explained that the spring season provides many great opportunities.

“I can compete against a variety of people while spending more time with my team,” Singh said. “Knowing that how hard I work can benefit me and my team is a great feeling, as well as being able to test myself and my skills.”

Although only a freshman, Singh and her partner made it to the semifinals at every tournament in which they competed. The two placed third twice, and second once. She looks forward to next year’s spring season.

“I look forward to competing next year and experiencing how much I’ve improved and how much I have left to learn. I can’t wait to spend more time with my team and do the best I can,” Singh said.

Junior and junior varsity player Kaavya Jampana focused mainly on mixed doubles this year.

“I think mixed doubles is so great as the dynamic with having a boy and a girl is so [different] from doubles or singles,” Jampana said.

Last year, Jampana and her mixed doubles partner went to the finals. She remembers the great amount of happiness she and her partner both felt.

“Even though we got second place, my partner and I were extremely proud of each other as we worked so hard and fought through many tough opponents to get to where we were,” Jampana said.

Jampana said that during the whole school year, the tennis players are “in a mindset where [they] practice for [their] spring season.”

“Going into the spring season, I was most looking forward to the tournament season as in fall we just had after-school matches, where we now have whole-day tournaments where we can truly show how much we have improved and learned from the last spring season,” Jampana said.

Jampana, who placed first with her partner in mixed doubles in multiple spring tournaments, said that she has grown so much throughout the season.

“I’ve played against so many people who have tested my strengths and weaknesses in different ways, so [playing in the spring tournaments] helped me realize what I need to focus on,” Jampana said. “I think that helped me bring more to the court.”

The fact that multiple scheduled tournaments had been canceled because of bad weather made Jampana very upset he said.

“We already get a limited amount of tournaments per year, and when multiple get canceled, it doesn’t give us enough opportunities as players to show our true talents,” Jampana said.

Jampana, who will be a senior next year, looks forward to “playing some more great tournaments (during the spring season) and making those life-long memories with [her] teammates.”

Senior and junior varsity tennis player Varshaan Parthibannandhini prefers playing doubles.

“[Doubles is] based on proper coordination and timing, which once you get used to it, is fun to play, and you will enjoy playing the match,” Parthibannandhini said.

Parthibannandhini said he likes to play more during the spring season compared to the fall season because of the weather.

“I mostly prefer spring over the fall season because during fall the weather is really cold and not fun to play in that condition,” Parthibannandhini said. “But during the spring season, it’s really fun because you don’t feel restrained by the weather anymore.”

Parthibannandhini said played mostly doubles this year and said that he learned a lot throughout all the matches in which he played.

“[I have] improved my doubles game which enabled me to have fun playing all the matches,” Parthibannandhini said.

Junior and varsity tennis player Anush Kambala prefers playing singles over doubles.

“In doubles, it feels worse when you lose as you are losing with another teammate,” Kambala said. “In general though, I am just a better singles player than a doubles player.”

Kambala thinks that the spring season heavily affects the junior varsity players’ chances of making it onto the varsity roster for the upcoming year.

“I think [the spring season] plays a big factor [in determining if a junior varsity player can make it onto the varsity roster for the upcoming year] because if you are beating [junior varsity] competition regularly and easily, it usually indicates you are ready for varsity level tournaments,” Kambala said.

During next year’s spring season, Kambala looks forward to “spending time with [his] friends at the tournaments because it will be [his] last year in high school.”

“If there is anything I [have] realized about the last three years of high school tennis, [it] is that spending time with my friends was where I was the happiest,” Kambala said. “That shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

Junior and varsity tennis player Sonika Podduturi said she is more of a doubles player, and that doubles are much more fun compared to singles.

“Having a teammate to rely on while on the court is relieving and it is great to have someone to strategize with while in the middle of a match,” Podduturi said.

Podduturi said she had “tons of great memories of the spring season from both freshman year and sophomore year.” One of those memories was from two years ago, her freshman year.

“It was my first time and it was just a really cool experience to be able to watch all the highly skilled tennis players from our district. It was a great bonding experience with the team as we all gave it our all not only on the court but off the court while cheering for our teammates,” Podduturi said.

When comparing the fall and the spring season, Podduturi said that she prefers the spring season.

“I love when we are able to go to other sites and see how our other players are doing and cheer them on. The bus rides are also definitely a thing to highlight. Playing music on the speaker and getting hyped with the team is just a great feeling that reminds me that I am part of such a great team,” Podduturi said.

Podduturi said that overall, being a part of the Lebanon Trail varsity tennis team not only allows her to enjoy playing the sport she loves but also gives her an experience of being a part of the team.

“The environment created by our wonderful coaches and players makes being a part of the team an enjoyable experience,” Podduturi said. “The memories and personal connections I have made with the people on the team are something I will cherish forever.”