Baby Got Backhand

C Team’s Inner Leagues Helped Girls Improve Their Game While Serving As A Social Outlet

Lauren Brock and Sadie McDonald

A crowd of lively girls swarmed around head coach Andrew Gibbs in the library as he gathered his clipboard and pencil. There had been talk of a new plan for the season and the girls were thrilled to hear it. Gibbs cleared his throat and the room went silent. He was ready to announce the new system for blue and white, the collective C team. 

Gibbs explained his new plan. 

After a successful season of boys tennis last year, the coaches decided to implement the idea of inner leagues into girls tennis as well. 

The inner league system allowed the girls to create their own teams from within the C team. The teams then competed against each other to win victory in the championship at the of the season. 

Once he finished talking, the girls sprang out of their seats and rushed to their friends. Shouting over each other, the girls discussed their elaborate team name ideas like Baby Got Backhand and The Slice Girls. 

“This is the first year we’re trying it with girls,” tennis coach Susan Halstrom said. “We’re tweaking a little bit, but it’s better than showing up and doing an hour of drilling.”

With the new system, players learned how to serve, score, and rally. Instead of having the usual hitting drills. After school, girls competed in matches against other teams, for some lighthearted competition.

“I think it’s a good idea that Gibbs came up with,” senior Aislinn Menke said. “Otherwise C team wouldn’t get much playing time or much of the coach’s help. But with this system you can learn how to play the game and learn new techniques.”

Menke was apart of the only all senior team on blue and white, Causing a Racquet. She and her teammates met at the courts after school and talked about their days, while a group of freshmen set their waters down and prepared to play on the opposite side of the net. The seniors belted out the lyrics to Mama Mia, as the coaches frowned on the sidelines.

While tennis was a social outlet for some girls, like Menke, for others, the blue and white team became a way for them to improve their game, in hopes of making JV or Varsity next year, like sophomore Hayley Ives.

When Ives marched on to the courts at Harmon Park, she stretched out her arms and perfected her form. Ives introduced herself to her competitor but wasted no time before starting the match. She tightened her grip on the dark handle of her racquet and pulled her arm back. She threw the yellow ball into the air and smacked it with the racquet. The ball flew over the net and landed outside of the lines.

Ives’ eyes rolled to the back of her head. She had to get it over this time. She shook it off, stretched her arms behind her head and served the ball again. This time it was in. Ives did not plan on missing her next serve.

Meanwhile, as Menke strolled onto her court, she checked her latest Snapchat notification and reluctantly put her phone down. She made small talk with her opponent, delaying the start time of their match. When it was time to begin, she picked up the ball and rolled it around on the strings of her racquet. Menke tossed the ball up and swung her racquet. The ball hit the net and rolled back to her. 

Menke picked up the ball, she and her partner laughing. With a shrug of her shoulders she glanced over at the rest of team on the sidelines, and flashed them a thumbs up. She flung the ball up and whacked it again. This time it was in. Menke’s audience cheered her on. But Menke didn’t care about the point. She wasn’t there to win. She was there for a good time.

Whether it’s players like Ives, who practice perfecting their game, or Menke who are just there for the fun, the inner leagues enabled the girls to work hard and challenge themselves, and at the same time mess around and even sing the all lyrics to Mama Mia if they wanted.