By DAVID WOOD, for The Democrat
Enduring multiple tiebreakers and lengthy back-to-back games, the Brown County High School girls varsity tennis team took a close second at the Steve Makurat Girls Invitational on April 7.
Renamed in 2014, after the team’s beloved former coach of 28 years, the invitational pitted the Eagles against Hauser and Edinburgh in a round robin, three-way tournament.
While the Eagles came up short against Hauser overall, it wasn’t without a fight. Both doubles games went to tiebreakers, while Hallee Miller, senior and team captain, narrowly dropped her final set 4-6.
Cassidy Davis, a 16-year-old sophomore, stood out for the Eagles and fired back against Hauser, taking first in her singles group at 2-0, which earned her a medal.
“I feel like I did really well. I made a lot of improvements since last year. … My serves were looking really good today,” Davis said.
She attributed her success to team practice under Thom Miller, the 47-year-old head coach and Brown County math teacher. Miller himself played under Makurat on the very same courts.
“Practice has been really good. We’re working hard and the drills Miller has us do are really working for us,” Davis said. “I love having him as a coach. He’s really good and knows what he’s doing.”
Davis also praised her team for their effort. Despite the second-place finish, she remains positive about the rest of their matches. “I was really proud of my team,” she said. “They did really well and I think we’re going to have a really good season.”
Miller highlighted the team’s ability to fight through adversity as a positive takeaway from the tournament. However, the team still has work to do in preparation for the rest of the year.
“I think we’re doing a good job of hanging in when we get down in a game or in a set. They’re pretty good about hanging in there and fighting through it,” he said. “We just have some fundamentals and core placement to work on and clean up as we start into our conference season.”
This season may be harder in particular as a result of a more rigorous schedule.
“Our schedule doesn’t get much easier,” Miller said. “We wanted to strengthen our schedule to give our kids more competition at a higher level, in hopes that they’ll perform better in conference and postseason.”
Makurat believes learning from early mistakes plays a key role in the success of a team as they progress through the year.
“It’s a game of ups and downs and learning experiences,” Makurat said. “That’s why I’ve always liked this tournament early in the season; you learn from it, make some corrections, and hopefully be a little better prepared for the next match.
Miller echoed Makurat’s sentiment, perhaps as a carryover from his former coach’s own methodology.
“I’m not really too concerned about wins and losses,” he said. “This is a multi-year process, and the kids know that, I know that. It’s a tough sport to learn and compete in, and I figure the outcome is a result of the time put into the process.”
This may hold especially true given the team’s roster. Only two players remain from last year’s original varsity squad. However, Miller remains hopeful that their hard work will pay off.
“We are young, but they are putting in the time, and hopefully that’ll start paying off by mid- to late season.”
Grace Baughman, Olivia Baughman, Cassidy Davis, Jacey Ferguson, Hallee Miller, Leah Tucker, Julia Williams