Spartans Tennis Takes OffNov 06, 2014 01:03PM ● By Michelle Bodkin
Freshman Sidnee Lavati and junior Savannah Frank led Murray High girls tennis team to a third-place finish in state on Oct. 9. Photo courtesy of Crystal Speckman
Murray High freshman Sidnee Lavati and junior Savannah Frank are the product of hard work and natural talent. Both girls have logged numerous hours at the Sports Mall working on their craft, and it is paying off for Murray tennis. According to head coach Crystal Speckman, she hasn’t had two girls on her tennis team with that kind of work ethic since Murray won state in 2005.
Lavati had the opportunity to play tennis anywhere in the state she wanted, but chose to stick close to home and play for Murray.
“Sid is an unbelievable addition to our team,” Speckman said. “She has absolutely raised the level and put us into contention. There is no other way to explain it. It’s just unbelievable, and she’s a freshman, so this is the beginning of four years.”
Between Lavati and Frank’s talent, Murray was able to take third in state this year as a team and looks poised to have another standout season next year with both girls returning.
“Savannah is a junior so I only have her for one more year, but Sid and Savannah are the anchor of our team: the talent anchor, and it’s a very talented anchor,” Speckman said.
Frank’s biggest strength and contribution to the team is her ability to adjust to whatever situation her opponent is giving her.
“Savannah is the smartest player I have ever seen,” Speckman said. “She figures it out, and she changes within the time frame of a match. It’s a really important skill, not just in tennis, but in life. She’s meticulous about her school work, her shots, everything.”
Speckman says that Lavati and Frank find success on the court because of their willingness to practice and learn from their mistakes.
“Practice makes perfect,” she said. “Both of these girls started when they were 8 or so. If you go to the Sports Mall every day for two to three hours, you’re going to get better. Plus, they know how to compete. They practice competing, and they learn from their losses.”
Both girls made it through Murray’s region undefeated, which Speckman said is amazing because of the level of talent and competition they face every week.
“Olympus won state, and they are in our region,” she said. “All of the schools who won titles are in our region, so that tells you the level.”
Speckman hopes a bumper crop of freshmen led by Lavati and a strong finish to the 2014 season will give Murray the bounce they need to be even better next year.
“My vision is that they repeat their success from this year and they win at one and two [in singles] not just at region, but at state too,” she said.
For Lavati and Frank specifically, Speckman would love to see both girls earn college scholarships to any school they would want to go to.
“I can see that occurring, but, of course, that is up to them, and it is a huge commitment,” she said. “…because Savannah is going to be a senior next year, I would like her to win academic all -state.”
As for the team as a whole, Speckman would like to see more girls step up and help contribute to what Lavati and Frank are doing.
“They have to improve, and they have to move and support these other players,” Speckman said. “They aren’t there yet, but they need to get to that level. They need to copy the work habits and work hard throughout the year.”