GREENVILLE – Addie Haupt, Natalie Milligan and Abby Swensen already have led the Greenville girls tennis team to record-setting performances, but they think they’re just starting to unlock their potential.
The three Greenville sophomores all have qualified for the Ohio High School Athletic Association district tournament and will compete on Thursday at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
“It’s nice to have both our first singles and first doubles moving on because it shows that we’re a strong team like all together and it’s not just one person,” said Milligan, who qualified for the district tournament as an individual.
District qualification is just the latest accomplishment for Greenville in what has been a season to remember. During the regular season the Lady Wave went 18-2 to set the program record for most wins in a season.
“We’re beating teams we didn’t think we could beat,” said Milligan, who compiled a 14-2 record at first singles during the regular season.
The Wave’s success has continued into the postseason with the three district qualifiers. It’s the first time in Coach Jim Koontz’s nine seasons leading the Lady Wave that he’s had three players advance to the district tournament.
“I think it’s the first time we’ve ever had three kids go,” he said. “Before it’s always been like one or a doubles team but never three of them like this.”
Prior to this season, Greenville’s last district tournament qualifier was then-senior Sophia Navas-Davis in 2013.
With this year’s three district qualifiers only being sophomores, they’re excited about what the future holds.
“It gets me excited for like where we’ll be senior year and stuff,” said Haupt, who compiled a 17-3 record with Swensen in first doubles this year.
The Greenville girls anticipate that having teammates to support each other and share this week’s district tournament experience with will be tremendously beneficial.
“It’s great,” Swensen said. “I’m happy I have support, definitely.”
Along with having a support system to help ease their nerves, the Lady Wave players also are taking comfort in the fact that they’ve already reached a big benchmark in just making it to the district tournament.
“I was expecting myself to win a certain number of matches at sectionals but at districts the pressure is kind of off,” Milligan said. “I just want to play my best and have fun.”
In the district tournament the Greenville athletes will see some of the best tennis players the state has to offer as Southwest Ohio is a hotbed for the sport.
“The competition is really tough down there with those Cincinnati schools,” Koontz said. “It seems like the Cincinnati schools, they’re like the cream of the crop that come out of there.”
With matches against the Cincinnati teams looming, the girls know they’ll face much stiffer competition in the districts than they have at any point this season.
“It’s like a completely different level,” Haupt said. “It’s insane.”
While they know they’re in for some tough challenges, the Lady Wave are excited about the opportunity.
“I like when people hit hard, you know, and just have a nice serve,” Milligan said. “It’s fun to play those kind of people because I like to hit hard.”
The girls also are excited to play at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
“It’s going to be so big,” Swensen said. “That’s what I’m excited about.”
The Lindner Family Tennis Center hosts professional players each year in the Western & Southern Open.
“I’m so excited,” Milligan said. “I’ve been there and like seen the pros play there. So to get to play there myself, it’s going to be a really great experience.”
Milligan will begin the district tournament on Thursday with a match against St. Ursula Academy sophomore Kellie Hannan. Swensen and Haupt will play St. Ursula Academy juniors Taylor Kunci and Gabby Gockerman in the opening round on Thursday.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.