Coming into the season expectations were high for Esther and Ruby Bolon to make a third trip to the state tennis tournament in Division II doubles and with a lot of hard work, experience and a little maturity, the sisters met that goal and are prepared to achieve a new one at state.
Coming off a first place finish at districts, the Bath senior duo open play against the Alliance Marlington pair of Mary and Elizabeth Mason at the Linder Family Tennis Center Friday. The Bolons enter state as the No. 1 seed after winning the district title last week. The Masons come in as the No. 3 seed.
The Shawnee sister pair of Aria and Alora Patel will also be playing at state as they come in after a third place finish at district. The duo will face Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown team of Brigette Fuentes and Alex Wolf.
“There was a lot of talk that we were going to make it again and kind of a lot of pressure but once we made it we could take a deep breath and focus on making it as far as we can in the tournament,” Esther Bolon said.
During the season, Esther plays No. 1 singles and Ruby is the No. 2 player on the Wildkittens team but have little trouble falling back into playing doubles once the postseason begins.
While not playing doubles, the pair practices with Landon and Evan Neumann, Elida alumni standouts who are familiar with making it to state.
“It is a lot easier to go from singles courts to doubles courts because there is a lot more room to work with on the courts,” Ruby Bolon said.
In their years of playing as doubles partners the two have learned a lot about each other and perhaps the most important is to stay focused. Because both are highly competitive, the two would often bicker amongst themselves and realized that was counterproductive to what needed to be accomplished.
“Our game has definitely improved a lot,” Esther Bolon said. “I would say our biggest thing is we communicate a lot better than we did our freshman and sophomore year.”
Ruby Bolon added, “Not as much fighting anymore. We got a little more mature. I don’t know.”
Esther put it more succinctly that they are willing to talk through it than not talking it all.
Bath head coach Sandy Dackin has watched the Bolons developed into such a great team and agrees that it is the girls’ maturity that has been one of the driving forces behind their success as well as their court awareness and aggressiveness.
“They anticipate so well and that is one of the main thing that sets them apart,” Dackin said. “They communicate so much better than they have in the past and that just comes with playing. They communicate so much better than they have in the past.”
Dackin adds that as their coach she is there to offer them emotional and tactical support.
“Emotions for the most part,” Dackin said. “On the turn we are checking things like what do you see that is happening but emotionally kind of the biggest things at time. They are so court aware and so smart and knowledge of the game is above most and they’re so well trained and their technique is at such a high level that just keeping them on pace and on track and working with each other.”
Esther adds that she likes having Ruby as her doubles partner because the two expect the best from each other.
“We are both so competitive and we have a competitive family and we both want to win and neither of us is going to give up,” Esther Bolon said. “It is fun to have a partner that is equally wants to win and have the same goals.”
Ruby Bolon added, “It’s fun to play with your sister first of all and then knowing your partner well and not just being another person at school. We like to set each other up for greatness and that is the best part about it.”
The two admit that after the match, they might discuss the hits and misses, but on the court the two look to pick each other up and encourage each other after a bad shot or stupid mistake.
“We are a lot more composed as seniors compared to when we were freshmen,” Ruby Bolon said.
As they prepare for state Ruby Bolon said because they are entering as the No. 1 seed, the two are confident in what they can accomplish at state.
The Bolons both said they want to make it into the top eight at state. Last year, the Bolons, who finished eighth, won their first match but fell in the second round to the state runner-ups.
“Going into the tournament as a No. 1 seed is exciting and not the third or the fourth like in the last couple of years,” Ruby Bolon said. “It is fun to know you have a good chance of winning but you still have to execute and play well.”
Esther Bolon said, “Everybody’s goal is to win state and that is our main goal but we want to make it further than we did last year.”
Both agree that if they play their game, that they can accomplish that goal.
Dackin echoed the sister’s sentiment by saying if they play their game they can do well at state.
“Their game is getting up to the net and finishing and if they hold on to that I believe they will be very successful this weekend,” Dackin said.