WHEELERSBURG — Wheelersburg’s Maddie Gill is already a three-time state tennis tournament qualifier — with a doubles partner.
However, for her senior season — and like a favorable euchre hand — Gill is going at this one alone.
That’s because Gill, after three postseasons of teaming with the graduated Kaitlyn Sommer, intends to blaze her own individual tournament trail this season as a singles competitor.
Already a perfect 5-for-5 in singles matches this year as Wheelersburg’s ace performer, and in straight-sets sweeping fashion, Gill is gearing up to spend September as the ramp-up to October —and the Division II postseason.
The state tournament, should she qualify, is set for the weekend of Oct. 23-24.
Gill, in an interview last week, discussed the differences in playing solely singles this season —compared to her first three seasons to savor with Sommer.
The tandem twice captured the Division II Southeast-East District doubles championship —after finishing their first campaign together as the district runners-up.
The top two doubles teams, as well as the top two singles players, at the one-day district meet move on to the coveted state event.
“We had played together since we were younger, we were so used to playing together. That helped out a lot,” said Gill. “It is a lot different without a doubles partner. The main thing in doubles is communicating with a partner, so it is a lot different being by yourself.
En route to last season’s district title, it was an early light-heartened moment in the opening match that actually relaxed them, she said.
“It was funny because last year we were in the district tournament, and we were nervous at first and in one of our first matches, I ended up hitting Kaitlyn with my serve. But after that, we played a lot better,” said Gill, with a laugh. “That loosened us up and we started playing our best.”
Wheelersburg girls tennis coach Jodi Wright concurred.
“As a doubles player, you always have your partner to help keep the pressure down and balance you out,” she said.
This year, however, if Gill gets back to the district tournament at Ohio University, she is on her own —and playing on the indoor courts at the university’s tennis center.
She said, though, that singles is nothing new.
“I’ve spent every year so far at singles in the regular season. If I just focus on that, I can see how far I can go, but I still want our team to do the best it can,” said Gill.
Wright already likes what she sees from her senior singles tops.
“This year, I can say that Maddie has moved to a new level of being calm and focused that I’ve not seen her at before in singles,” said the coach. “I’m proud of her and I am expecting she will be able to handle her postseason alone very well. She is really relaxed, focused and having fun. I can see her going far.”
Far enough that she can, once again, get her name posted on the accomplishments board at the school’s sparkling new tennis courts — and play at the next level.
Gill said the college recruiting process is already under way.
“I would like to play in college and I’ve already talked to a couple of schools,” she said.
But first things first, Gill is all about excelling with Wheelersburg for one final go-round.
“I just want to see how far I can go,” she said. “We have to play every practice or match like it’s our last. That’s what we’re doing.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved