By Mark Ambrogi
Lily Sawyer never played a varsity match for Center Grove High School girls tennis team, but her contributions were still valuable.
“She was able to nurture our younger players,” Center Grove coach Debby Burton said. “Lily was one of only two seniors (Claire Rucker) who had been with the team for four years. It was a big responsibility with just two of them leading.”
Burton coached Sawyer for three years in middle school because at that time girls tennis was still a fall sport in middle school.
Sawyer earned three varsity letters.
“She was asked to stay and practice with the varsity until the end of the season,” Burton said. “She never ended up playing a varsity match, but she was always on top of the JV. She worked hard making her teammates better.”
Sawyer said she felt she stepped out of her comfort zone this year to be more vocal.
“With there not being many seniors, I tried to lead the team when there was no one else to do so,” she said.
Sawyer would play a mixture of singles and doubles on junior varsity. Burton said Sawyer’s favorite was doubles.
“I like playing doubles because I like having a teammate there to support me while we’re playing,” she said. “I had fun being with my teammates and encouraging them, especially the varsity players, when they were playing against hard opponents.”
Sawyer, who competed in taekwondo when she was younger, started playing tennis in sixth grade. Prior to sixth grade, she had no prior experience playing.
“I started playing tennis because a friend of mine wanted to join the team and I thought I might as well start it with her and see what happens,” she said. “I’ve loved it ever since then because it’s fun playing with everyone and getting to know new people. I made my improvement during middle school and then when starting high school tennis was when COVID started. After that I kept practicing outside of clinics and school.”
Sawyer said Burton encouraged her throughout her career to have fun and try her best on the court. She also was thankful for Park Tudor coach Andrea Calvert-Sanders, who was her private tennis instructor.
Her best memory is a team-building experience at Camp Allendale in Trafalgar. The girls stayed overnight and became closer.
“I think I will be playing tennis down the road, just for fun, not for anything too serious,” she said.
THE SAWYER FILE
NAME: Lily Sawyer
COLLEGE PLANS: Plans to major in psychology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
GRADE: 2023 Center Grove High School graduate
HOBBIES: Listening to music, traveling and playing tennis
FAVORITE SUBJECT: Literature
FAVORITE MOVIES: “Back to the Future,” “Top Gun” and “Cast Away”
FAVORITE TV SHOWS: “Criminal Minds” “Manifest” and “The Office”
FAVORITE ATHLETES: Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff
FAVORITE MUSICIANS: The Weekend, Bruno Mars and SZA
FAVORITE BOOKS: “All the Light We Cannot See,” “A Long Way Home” and “The Light Between Us”
FAVORITE VACATION SPOTS: Hawaii, Mexico and the Bahamas
PARENT’S NAME: Joleen Sawyer