by Beau Wicker
Lewis Cass’ tennis program is known for strong doubles play in recent years.
Leading the charge for the Lady Kings the last two seasons is senior No. 1 doubles player Katie Leach.
Leach is undefeated in Mid-Indiana Conference play at “1 dubs” the last two seasons.
This year, she and her doubles partner Kirsten Dollar are 9-2 overall and 5-0 in MIC play. Last year, Leach and doubles partner Casey Robertson went 14-4 and 7-0 in MIC play.
It’s not too shabby for a player that first went out for the sport as a sophomore. Cass coach Stu Engle said that Leach earning All-MIC honors at No. 1 doubles as a junior was a “remarkable” accomplishment.
“This says a lot about her work ethic and desire to do the best she can in anything she does,” Engle said. “Katie is a quiet leader who leads by example. She never complains, never goes for second best. I respect this quality in any person. When the going gets tough, Katie will do her best, and that is all I really want from my students and athletes.”
Tennis has come quite naturally to Leach. She said her background in softball has helped out.
“It really helps that I played softball since I was 6,” she said. “I jumped into tennis, and it wasn’t too hard to adjust to the same skills.”
Leach discussed what makes a strong doubles player.
“I think that in doubles you need good reaction time and good hand-eye coordination,” she said. “I have a good connection with my partner. In fact my doubles partner this year is my best friend. We can read each other’s minds and work really well together.”
Leach also credited coach Engle for the Kings’ success in doubles play.
The Kings are 7-2 and 4-1 in MIC play this season. They host Hamilton Heights today before traveling to Maconaquah on Friday to conclude league play. Peru is the MIC leader and the only team that has defeated Cass this season. The Kings are hoping to run the table and have another team knock off the Bengal Tigers.
The Logansport Sectional is next week. The Kings and the Berries again look to be the top two teams in the field. In their regular-season matchup this year, the Berries won 3-2. The Berries swept the singles spots, while the Kings swept the doubles matches.
Leach is expecting a tough match against the Berries’ No. 1 doubles duo.
“The last match was really close. We’re pretty evenly matched,” she said.
Leach and her teammates will also be rooting for one of the Kings’ singles players to take a match from the dominating group of Berries. Leach said her team certainly has a chance, against all odds considering the losses to graduation from a year ago.
“We lost a lot of people but we’re still a strong team for being really young,” she said.
The following is a question-and-answer session with Leach.
Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?
A. Tennis, since I started playing tennis my sophomore year, I had to challenge myself to learn something new quickly and have enjoyed the challenge. Also, my best friend and I are doubles partners and we have really enjoyed competing with each other.
Q. How did you first get started in sports? At what age?
A. I started playing T-ball and soccer when I was 5.
Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?
A. My mom, Ann, was in gymnastics, and my brother, Frankie, played baseball and basketball in grade school.
Q. Have you ever played a sport that you were not successful at?
A. Yes, I have attempted to play golf, but each time I struggle to hit the ball off the tee!
Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?
A. Since I first started playing sports, I believe I have became more well rounded. I have learned that I can use skills from other sports and apply them to the current sport I am in.
Q. Who do you consider your biggest role model? Why?
A. My biggest role models are my parents. They have supported me through everything and pushed me to do my best.
Q. What experiences have you had in sports have made you the athlete you are today?
A. I have learned that the more dedication and work I put into something, the greater the reward will be. If I always give 100 percent effort, I feel content regardless of the outcome of the match.
Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?
A. I love to go fishing with my dad and grandpa!
Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?
A. My favorite memory was winning MIC last year in tennis.
Q. What’s your favorite music, movie, TV show, etc.?
A. Musical artist: The Script. Movie: 21 Jump Street. TV show: Duck Dynasty. Book: Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Sports team: The Packers.
Q. Who is the best athlete in your respective sport you’ve ever gone up against?
A. Whitney Jennings. She is a great three-sport athlete!
Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?
A. My goal is to become a physical therapist. I plan on attending Indiana University Kokomo to obtain my bachelor’s degree in biology and then applying to a graduate physical therapy program.
Each week during the school year the Pharos-Tribune recognizes an athlete from one of five area high schools. The recipients are selected by each school’s athletic department.