Postseason time arrives this week for girls’ tennis, and the top teams in the region are ready to do battle in their annual effort to earn the coveted trip to Indianapolis.
The smaller schools with limited resources know they have their work cut out for them, and face an uphill battle. So do their players. But that doesn’t mean their dreams are diminished. If anything, they are even more inspiring.
Sam Couch is a senior at Morton. She is a three-year letter winner in tennis. She's done the same thing in four years of volleyball. As a two-sport athlete, one would believe her plate is full.
Hardly. Couch is also the Valedictorian of Morton's Class of 2013, carrying a 4.40 GPA out of 4.0. She has nailed all seven AP classes she has taken like a serve driven down the inside line.
Want more? Couch is a member of the Morton Science Olympiad, working every spring on the robotics project that the Governors build for the state contest. This weekend she took time out for this interview after working midnights at the Griffith White Castle.
“My schedule keeps me pretty busy,” Couch said. “But I prefer to be busy and be productive. I enjoy the competition of sports, and of the Olympiad. The stress and the intensity are actually fun.”
As a junior, Couch earned the No. 1 singles position for the Governors, and posted a .500 record to lead the team to a GLAC conference title, a Hammond City Tournament trophy, and a berth in the sectional finals.
But her tough academic schedule, coupled with her work with the Olympiad, kept her away from most of the Morton offseason tennis program. This spring, she lost a pair of challenge matches, and was slotted in at the No. 3 singles position.
The tough senior didn’t even flinch.
“Quitting never entered my mind,” she said. “This is my team, my friends. The two girls who passed me up got it because they earned it, and I am happy for them.
“Am I disappointed I lost and fell to No. 3?” she asked rhetorically. “Sure. But I will be the best No. 3 player in the region, and make my team proud.”
Couch carried a 5-2 record into the Hammond City Tournament on Monday. She went undefeated in conference play, and the Govs took another GLAC title.
Coach Deb Luken is as impressed with Couch as a coach can be.
“A lot of seniors would have put their energy into something else if they fell from No. 1 to No. 3,” Luken said. “And I couldn’t blame her if she went that way. But she was just the opposite. Came early, stayed late, stayed positive, and really showed the rest of the team what it means to be a Governor.”
The Governors are gearing up for a rematch with Whiting, the defending sectional champ. The Oilers have defeated the Govs the last two times they have met.
“We are looking forward to the rematch this week,” Couch said. “We know we could have played a lot better the last time we faced them. We want redemption.”
Small school rivalries, big time dreams. Let the postseason begin.