ADA – Miranda Wills admitted she was a little intimidated playing against male players last year as a freshman. But after a successful first season, the sophomore Bulldog stopped worrying about her male opponents a long time ago and instead she has focused not on who is on the other side of the net or what their gender is but collecting victories.
And the sophomore Bulldog has been doing plenty of that this season by producing a 17-4 record at No. 3 singles and helping the Ada team to a record-breaking season.
“It was a little intimidating going in but I just want to approach every match the same way and just play my game and see where it takes me,” Wills said. “I have a great team and playing behind Caden (Mullins) and Isaac (Spar) has really helped me and they have taught me a lot.”
Wills’ journey playing on the boys’ team began last year when Ada did not have enough to girls to field a team in the Fall. Ohio High School Athletic Association rules allow girls to participate in the boy’s team if they do not have a girl’s team.
“I am really lucky I got the opportunity to play,” Wills said. “ l love tennis and I love being part of the team and couldn’t ask for a better season and a better team.”
Wills is one of four girls who play on the varsity boy’s squad. The other females on the team are senior Morgan Swick and juniors Samantha Crawford and Kendal Guagenti.
“We see more and more girls doing that,” said first-year head coach Cody Hurley. “We played a few teams this year that had girls play on the varsity team.”
Wills, who played volleyball and basketball, was not considering playing tennis at the high school level. Despite coming from a tennis-rich family, Wills was not completely sold playing competitively. Wills’ father, Scott Wills, was a standout at Ohio Northern University on the courts and is the current women’s tennis coach. Mackenzie, her older sister, was a top player at Ada and now a member of the ONU women’s tennis program.
“I always played tennis for fun when I was younger,” Wills said. “I always liked it but I didn’t know I wanted to take it to this level and I am really glad I did and I would like to keep going. I looked up to my sister a lot and my mom and dad have been great helping me out along the way. They were nothing but supportive. I have a great support team.”
Hurley had no problem adding Wills to the starting line-up last year where she had a solid freshman season and improved on it this season. As a freshman she went 18-3 and this year she is 17-4.
“She is already off to a record-breaking start,” Hurley said. “She has won more matches in a two-year span in school history including Zach Beaschler.”
Hurley added that this year he ramped up the schedule this year so Wills faced even tougher competition and she continued to manufactures victories.
“We have been playing state semifinalist and state ranked teams and she has hung with every single one of her opponents this year,” Hurley said. “She has a quality about her that something athletes have and some don’t. She is incredibly fearless and courageous.”
Hurley added that she is mentally tough and sticks to her game.
“Not many girls want to play boys tennis but she looks forward to it,” Hurley said.
Off the court, Hurley said there are no issues with her joining the boy’s team and the other members of the team have embraced her. It also doesn’t hurt that she has a several females on the team.
“She loves the team dynamic and she told me this is her favorite team that she has been on before,” Hurley said. “They know she is good. It is something that they enjoy having her around and she definitely helps them improve and play better as well.”
Wills and the rest of the Bulldogs enter sectional play and she knows the competition and the pressure become much tougher. However, Hurley said he thinks she can make it to districts.
Hurley said Wills will be in the bottom half of the bracket and she will face the No. 2 seed who both have lost to Ada’s No. 1, Caden Mullins, and No. 2, Isaac Spar and Hurley points out that Wills hangs with those two top Bulldog netters.
“I think she has a shot to make districts which is an amazing accomplishment and I don’t think a lot of people take her seriously as in players in the area,” Hurley said. “A lot of people talk about Caden and Isaac but opposing coaches always come up to me and see your No. 3 (Wills) is amazing. Where ever she goes she gets the most compliments on the team.”