ST. JOHN | A No. 2 doubles team sometimes is the forgotten link on a high school tennis team.
The players above them shine and receive accolades, while the duo who fills that gap often goes unnoticed.
For Lake Central's Keith Crawford and Eric Shrader, their efforts at No. 2 doubles have been a key cog in the success of The Times No. 6 Indians this season.
Crawford and Shrader have impressed coach David Cafmeyer so far. As of Monday, the duo's record stands at 8-7 this season -- an impressive feat given their lack of experience in the sport.
"They have good chemistry together," Cafmeyer said. "I've been very pleased with their performance this year. Hopefully, the best is yet to come."
Crawford, a freshman, played throughout elementary school and in summer camps. He stopped playing in middle school, then came back to the sport this season.
Crawford's mother, Dawn, is an accomplished wheelchair tennis player who plays in tournaments around the country. His brother, Kyle, a 2012 grad, also played tennis last season for the Indians.
Shrader, a senior, is a former soccer player who had no previous experience playing tennis.
"I wasn't trying out for soccer this year," Shrader said. "I wanted to keep in shape and just try a new sport. I needed a change."
That change has paid dividends for the Indians.
The duo recorded a win over Crawfordsville on Sept. 7, a grueling match that went to the third set before they emerged with a 13-12 victory. While it was a team effort, Crawford and Shrader's match allowed the Indians to finish in second place in the eight-team Crawfordsville Invitational.
On Sept. 11, they also won against Chesterton, allowing the Indians to walk away with a huge, 3-2 Duneland Athletic Conference win in a match resumed due to inclement weather.
There have been definite growing pains, but Crawford and Shrader have improved by leaps and bounds.
"Both of these guys are pretty level-headed kids," Cafmeyer said. "They don't get too excited when they win and don't get too down on themselves when they lose. It's not that common in high school tennis."
While both players only have this season to perform together at No. 2 doubles, they're looking to make the most of it.
"We just want to improve technically," Shrader said. "Wins obviously count, so we want those, but we're just more focused on improving match to match."