As a freshman, Amber Dwyer made the Lake Station varsity tennis team and played No. 3 singles. It was her first time playing on a court.
The Eagles' program has steadily improved over the course of the last three years, and Dwyer has been a prime example of that advancement.
"Coach (Kristy) Hite recruited several of us basketball players to come out for tennis as part of our offseason conditioning," Dwyer said. "I tried it and found I really liked tennis."
Hite has been working members of her basketball squad onto the tennis courts for three years, and the Eagles have seen their team record improve each season. The coach credits girls like Dwyer for making the difference.
"Amber is a good athlete and a hard worker, plus she is very coachable," Hite said. "She likes to learn and challenge herself to do better. The other girls see that and pick up on the effort.
"We've been growing in terms of quality on the court."
After posting an 8-5 record last year at No. 2 singles, Dwyer has now moved into the No. 1 slot to lead the Eagles. So far in 2011, she is 2-2 overall, 2-1 in Greater South Shore Conference matches.
"Amber has had to make a significant adjustment this year at No. 1 singles," Hite said. "She is playing against a much tougher level of competition than she did last year at No. 2. So far she has played really well, and her mental aspect has been outstanding."
Hite is especially impressed with Dwyer's progress in that latter area.
"Amber has become a very smart player out on the court," Hite said. "She doesn't just try to muscle her way through a match. She looks for an opponent's weakness and works on exploiting it."
Dwyer is a three-sport athlete who has also lettered in basketball and volleyball.
"The difference with tennis is that when I am on the court, it is all on my shoulders," Dwyer said. "It's not like basketball, where a teammate can pick you up if you have an off-game. It's on you, and I like that challenge."
The Eagles do not have a team captain, but Dwyer shows leadership on and off the court.
"I try to talk to my teammates if I think it will help them or the team," Dwyer said. "We have a lot of fun working together as a team. I like that we all get along well."
The Eagles are hoping to break through the postseason barrier and win a sectional title this year.
"That would be awesome," Dwyer said. "We've gotten better every year, so maybe this will be the one."