From tennis clinic to state.
Five years ago Esther and Ruby Bolon decided to attend a Lima Area Tennis Association clinic and take lessons to see if what tennis might have to offer. Involved in sports, the duo, whose mother played tennis in college, had played for fun but nothing competitive and wanted to gain a foundation for the game.
Fast forward to now and in those five short years, the Bath pair have excelled at the sport and the two have qualified for the Division II doubles state tournament Friday at the Linder Family Tennis Center in Mason. The two sophomores will play defending state champs Isabella Godsick and Megan Qiang from Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown.
“It is pretty exciting to make state as a sophomore,” Esther Bolon said. “We have just been working really hard and practicing a lot.”
The Bolon sisters qualified for state after finishing fourth at districts last week. The Bolons won their first two matches to qualify for the semifinals but fell to Toledo Central Catholic’s Bella Spinazze and Rachel Gorman 6-2, 7-5 and then fell 6-0, 6-0 in the third-place match to Lexington’s Sylvia Goldsmith and Gracie Pfieffer.
Last season, the two made it to the districts as a doubles team but failed to qualify for state.
“They have developed quite well from last season to this season,” Bath head coach Sandy Dackin said. “They put in a lot of hard work outside of the season which it takes to accomplish what they have accomplished this year.”
During the regular season, the two were the No. 1 and No. 2 singles players for Bath. Esther, who plays at No. 1, finished as runner-up at the Western Buckeye League tournament and Ruby was also second at the WBL tournament in No. 2 singles.
But once the regular season ended the two become one as a doubles team. Both said the transition was an easy one from singles to doubles because of the family bond.
“It is fun playing with my sister and it is not much different just a bigger court,” Esther Bolon said. “We get along … most of the time.”
Ruby Bolon echoed her sister’s sentiments and admits sibling rivalry does come into play some times, however, she enjoys Esther being her doubles mate.
“It is easier to play with a family member because you kind of know what they are going to do or be on the court,” Ruby Bolon said.
Esther Bolon said her sister has a great serve that really helps as well as being good at the net.
Ruby Bolon said her sister is a solid baseline player and the two compliment each other.
Dackin said making the decision to play them as a doubles team was a relatively easy one.
“Combined they work well together,” Dackin said. “Their skill level is very, very high. Just knowing the game and being around it as much as they have and being able to use their own strengths to their advantage.”
Dackin added that they also know how to identify their opponent’s weaknesses and try to exploit them.
“Their competitiveness is kind of what sets them apart from most others.”
Another area Dackin has seen the two improve on is the mental aspect of the game.
“Mentally they have gotten better which is a huge part of the game,” Dackin added. “Their skill level is so high and they know the game so well as far as strokes but mentally they have gotten so much better.”
The Bolons understand that the competition is going to be tough at state and got a little taste of it at districts in their final two matches.
“I want to do good but I don’t know how we are going to do,” Esther Bolon said. “I figure if they are going to be good in districts they are going to be better at state.”
Dackin added that the expectations are to go down and “enjoy the game” and take away everything they can from it and compete.