By John Bombatch
BEAVERCREEK — Maybe it was the rapid flash of orange and black she saw out of her peripheral vision. Maybe it was the sound of 20 or so hungry teen-aged tennis players chasing down a food table en masse.
Whatever it was, Beavercreek junior first singles player Esther Hu knew something was up.
As the lone varsity player still playing a match at the time, Hu looked over and saw her entire team loading up their plates in celebration of Thursday’s Senior Night festivities.
“You’re eating? She yelled out from court 3. How could you?” she said with a laugh.
Beavercreek knows how to throw a Senior Night.
The players had surrounded a long buffet table, loaded down with three kinds of pizza, chicken wings, pasta, vegetables, and several kinds of dessert. There might’ve been a few other items on the table as well, but they were disappearing in rapid succession.
Hu actually tried to run over and grab a bite to eat between games, but Beavers coach Bill Stanforth chased her back to her court.
Beavercreek’s top singles player soon defeated Huber Heights Wayne’s Kristen Hooker, 6-3, 6-1 to complete the Beavers’ 5-0 team sweep of the Warriors. After gathering up her things, Hu quickly joined the feeding frenzy.
“Everyone seems to have a good time, and the parents like it, too. It’s kind of low-key casual, and it’s fun to do. I like it,” Stanforth said. He then invited the Wayne players and their parents over to the table, presumably at their own risk.
Fortunately, no one lost a limb or was bitten. But fun was definitely had by all, especially the team’s five seniors.
Hu won her match at first singles, senior Maddy Dacri-Kim won at second singles by a 6-0, 6-0 margin over Wayne’s Rainey Messenger, and senior J’Dee Sandin defeated the Warriors’ Taneya Vaughn, 6-1, 6-0.
In doubles, senior Teresa Lin partnered with Vania Jiao to defeat Wayne’s Lyann Trihn-Allie Corwin duo 6-0, 6-1, and the senior tandem of Jessie Begley-Kailey Helton defeated Warriors Breanna Barber and Caitlyn Schock 6-0, 6-1.
Stanforth has the luxury of having 29 kids on the girls tennis team. That means he can juggle his lineup to where he can field an A-team, a B-team and a junior varsity squad.
“This was our only night where I knew I could have all five of our seniors at the same place at the same time,” Stanforth said. “It was also an opportunity for our seniors who might not play on varsity all the time. They had an opportunity to get a varsity match in.
“The five seniors we have, being the young ladies that they are, it’s just one of the reasons I love coaching this team,” he added. “They work hard when they’re out here. They support everybody else on the team. They’re involved in so many other activities, so maybe tennis isn’t the number one thing that they work on, but when they’re out here they’re giving 100 percent to what they’re doing.”
A group of underclassmen were left out on the courts to play a couple junior varsity doubles matches. They may have starved after the match, especially if either contest went three sets.
Stanforth said his Beavercreek squad will host Bellbrook on Monday, Sept. 19 for their next matchup, then they’ll have a key Greater Western Ohio Conference, National East battle with division rival Centerville. The two teams entered Thursday’s play tied atop the East division with 5-2 records. Beavercreek is now 9-6 overall; Centerville is 11-4.
“That is the match that will decide the division. We’ll be ready to go, but it’ll be quite a challenge,” he said. “We’ve won the division the last two years in a row, but that’ll be a tough match. We’ll have to bring our ‘A game.’”
And maybe some food.
Reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.