Dedication, personal sacrifice and second-to-none work ethics can turn a good team into a great team.
Those two qualities are the main traits which set the following seven young ladies apart from the rest when piecing together the 2019 Daily Clarion All-Area Team.
The Gibson Southern girls tennis team dominated local competition en route to a 10th consecutive team sectional championship last month and as a result landed a quartet of players on the all-area team.
The top doubles team from Princeton Community as well as the top singles player at Wood Memorial rounds out the team.
Without further ado the following girls made the cut for the all-area team: Lexie Birch (Gibson Southern), Addison Brown (Gibson Southern), Sydney Goedde (Gibson Southern), Cori Jones (Gibson Southern), Kloe Key (Princeton Community), Hannah Thacker (Wood Memorial) and Syerra York (Princeton Community).
LEXIE BIRCH -- The senior prepared in the offseason to be one of the Lady Titans top singles player coming into the season. It didn't quite work out that way in the beginning as she was pencilled in as a double players. But a change in the lineup late in the season moved Birch up to singles, and she proved her coaches made the right choice.
Birch worked her way up to the No. 2 singles spot for the Lady Titans and suffered just three losses in the singles lineup.
Her overall record between doubles and singles was 16-8.
"Lexie plays with aggression and only has one speed," Lady Titans coach Kyle DeBord said. "She started playing in the sixth grade on our junior high team and has grown tremendously over the last seven years. She was one of the three seniors who formed the nucleus of our team."
ADDISON BROWN -- The Lady Titan junior showed little signs of rust from an injury which prevented her from competition last year. Brown proved to be one of the most dominant players in southern Indiana as she posted a season record of 21-2.
Brown needed just two sets to dispose of most of her opponents on the season. She also bounced back from a minor wrist injury in the second half of the season but did not lose a beat after taking a week off.
"Addison is the most dominant player to play for anyone in Gibson County," DeBord said of his No. 1 singles player. "Her ability to control the court and dictate the tempo and pace is remarkable. We are happy to have her as a Titan."
SYDNEY GOEDDE -- The junior started out in the No. 3 singles spot and gave the lady Titans solid play everytime she stepped on the court.
For the betterment of the team Goedde moved down to doubles during the lineup shakeup and played just as effective.
She finished the season with a 12-8 overall record between the two spots.
"Sydney had some adversity to overcome as she really wanted to play singles all season," DeBord noted. "But when the coaches decided she gave our team a better chance by playing at doubles, she learned how to persevere through it and helped us. She made the absolute most of the situation and by the end of the season she was playing lights out."
CORI JONES -- The senior also had to make sacrifices this season. Jones was the Lady Titans top singles player last season but was bumped to No. 2 with the addition of Brown to the lineup this season. And once again during the lineup change toward the end of the season, Jones was bumped from No. 2 to No. 3.
She never lost a match in the No. 3 spot including the Lady Titans lone win in the regional against Evansville Memorial.
Jones finished the season with a record of 19-5 overall.
"Cori is the most patient player in our group," the Lady Titans coach said. "She had to overcome a lot this season and going from No. 1 singles to No. 3 singles she could have easily been a bad teammate but she was the exact opposite. She may not have been happy about it but she still worked hard and made the most of her senior season."
see tennis/page b3
KLOE KEY/SYERRA YORK -- Princeton coach Matt Moade issued a challenge to his top tandem at the beginning of the season and they responded.
Key and York posted a 22-4 record on the season before falling in the sectional championship match to Evansville Memorial's No. 1 team who would make it all the way to the individual state championship match.
"They lost a couple of matches last season that they should not have lost," Moade explained. "So we challenged them and pushed them to make sure it would not happen again this year and it didn't.
"Good things come to those who work hard and those two worked hard for everything they got this season."
The duo became the first Tigers doubles tandem (boys or girls) to earn All-Big Eight Conference honors in addition to being named on the All-District team and landed a spot on the All-State Honorable Mention list.
"They really bought into what us coaches were trying to get them to do," Moade said. "They both were primarily backhand players but they really worked on their forehand shots from the baseline and learned by hitting those kind of shots they would make the other better as well.
"I could not be more proud of everything they accomplished this season."
The duo compiled a 40-9 record over the last two years as they completed their third season and final season playing alongside one another.
York will be lost to graduation, while Key will return for one final season.
HANNAH THACKER -- The senior played as the No. 1 singles for the Lady Trojans all season. Thacker may not have finished with a winning record, but she proved to be no easy match against opponents top players.
The senior dropped three matches in three sets while many other sets went into a tiebreak before she was toppled.
"Hannah does a nice job of keeping the ball in play and making her opponents work for all their points," Wood Memorial coach Dan Bolin said after a match earlier this season. "She does a nice job of keeping on her opponents and she does not try to overhit the ball."