Drawing the daunting task of being Vandalia’s No. 1 singles player, senior Lauren Wasmuth was starting to get down on herself after recording zero wins through the first half of the season.
Playing in what coach Kevin Schroeder calls a “thankless” position, Wasmuth finally got in the win column on Monday, defeating Hillsboro’s Christina Bowman, 6-1, 6-3, and now the hope is that she will parlay that into several more victories.
“After working so hard, you get down every time you lose,” Wasmuth said. “But now, it finally paid off.
“(My season) was slow at first, but it’s picking up now.”
Monday’s win came two days after a heart-breaking loss at the Centralia Invitational. Facing another Hillsboro player, that time Nikki Vieweg, in the consolation semifinals, the two battled throughout the match, with Vieweg taking an 11-9 win.
With that momentum in tow, Wasmuth started and finished strong in her singles match on Monday.
“Being No. 1 is a thankless job,” Schroeder said. “She’s handled it pretty well, and if you have trouble winning, you can get a little depressed.
“But she’s handled it well, and now she’s got a win.”
Wasmuth heavily relies on her return game, with precise hits and quick decisions on how to make those hits the key to her success.
Lately, she has intermixed more court movement and more aggressive play close to the net into her game, and now more confident from the win, she said a goal of hers is to win as many matches as she can.
Unlike several other players on the team, Wasmuth doesn’t have a lot of height to create an intimidating presence at the net, but she likes to be close anyway, even though she knows she has to spend a lot of time at the back of the court.
“You feel good when you do it,” she said of scoring on a shot at the net. “But I’m just as comfortable (in the back) as at the net. I’m not as aggressive (there), but you have to do what you have to do.”
Schroeder said that many other players have been playing with more aggression, and he specifically mentioned Wasmuth as one of the front-runners in that movement.
But Wasmuth hopes there is one other aspect of her game that rubs off on her younger teammates before she heads to Kaskaskia College next fall to begin her pursuit of a radiology degree.
“For everyone, I hope they have fun with it and don’t take it too seriously, because then you get mad and don’t play as well,” she said.
Schroeder said it’s rare to see signs of disgust or frustration from Wasmuth, but she did admit that she has become frustrated with herself in the past.
But as long as the younger kids don’t see it, everything should work out fine.
“You never see her get down at practice or at matches,” Schroeder said. “She always keeps that even-keel, and if she gets beat, she gives credit where it’s due.”