It’s fairly safe to say that Morris tennis doubles partners Monica Davy and Leah Lines are well on their way to making Redskins history. Especially now after making it to the IHSA state finals two years in a row – and having played together for three full seasons now.
“I think each year it gets better and better – the experience from the previous year,” Lines said. “It makes it even more fun knowing what there is to look forward to.”
What there is to look forward to is a possible third straight trip to state next year as the dynamic duo are only juniors.
“Overall [this past season] was a big learning experience and I’m satisfied with how we played, but I’m definitely hungry for more wins next year,” Davy said.
Their success this season earned them Morris Daily Herald’s Tennis Players of the Year award. And more victories are likely to come, which could land them as the winningest doubles team in the 36 years of MCHS history by the time all is said and done.
Considering the ladies look to be getting better with age, becoming the first tennis players in school history to medal at state is not out of the realm next year, either.
“Our communication has definitely improved this season. By now we have learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Line said. “I think we also know that we need to be more aggressive and that we need to take the net more. We also know that we need to put points away before the rallies get too long.”
“We need to clean up our shots a little bit,” Davy said. “I think we’ve gotten a lot smarter over the years, so we need to keep that up. That and we need to work on our quickness and getting sharper, cleaner shots.”
Morris first-year coach Becky Ortega said the duo has a good work ethic and know how to stay focused.
“I had a great experience coaching the girls this year. They were fun to work with, very hard working, and they both have positive attitudes,” she said. “They were always dedicated to bettering themselves and the team as a whole. Leah and Monica were very driven to reach their goals, which helped them have a successful season.”
The girls said their trip to state this year was just as relaxing as last.
“It’s kind of been our tradition to go to the Olive Garden the night before [state],” Davy said. “That was really fun. Once we got there we kind of just relaxed. We went to a couple of different stores and shopped around a little bit. It was a really nice time for the players and the coaches to bond. It helped me not to stress about the day to come. I really enjoyed that time.”
Having had the experience the two have been exposed to over the years, the duo does’t seem to let themselves get psyched out by playing at a higher level.
“I get nervous before big tournaments but I think now its more the adrenaline that gets me going,” Lines said. “I don’t think the nerves bother me much any more.”
“I think that I know my own strengths and weaknesses and I just come to the courts every day and ready to play,” Davy said.
One of the things the two girls both talked about is the ground swell of support the they have received for the way they have represented MCHS.
“Our fans were awesome and that was one of the highlights of the year – having all of the people there,” Lines said. “Every single tournament that we’ve been to, every match we’ve been to. I know that Morris brings the best fans.”
That includes, of course, high-class treatment that comes with being in the royal family of tennis.
“I can always count on my grandma Pricilla to bring little snacks that she knows we like. Like cut up apples or crackers,” Davy said. “That and my grandma Mary always helps out by making cookies and things like that for us between matches.”
While they are likely looking forward to another stop at Panera Bread next year at the end of another state tournament, Lines and Davy are hoping it will be a victory feast next fall.
“It’s really a relief to know that we have next year and that we are going to work just as hard – even harder,” Lines said. “We know there is still a lot to do in our Morris High School career and we know what it takes to do it.”
That means keeping a court time schedule together during the offseason.
“Now that we have new goals that are set, and now that we know where we want to get to next year,” Davy said. “I have a feeling that we’re going to be playing a lot more this year than last year – and we played a lot last year. This year I can see us playing together just about every day.”