Over, but not forgotten

Savannah Wills provided a legendary tennis tenure at Ben Davis


Your final match. One of those feelings that you can never truly grasp until it actually happens. For Savannah Wills, this came with her high school tennis career, ending after her team’s postseason run and her own No. 1 singles advancement before falling to a tough Park Tudor opponent.

A big part of her life is now over, but she wants to make it clear that the sport she loves is not going away anytime soon.

“My high school career may be over, but I’m playing tennis for the rest of my life. I plan on playing on a club team with my roommate at Purdue. Since we met through tennis, I’m excited to play alongside her for the next four years!” Wills said.

Over, but not forgotten. Her high school tenure and this fantastic year for the girls tennis team are worth being reflected on. The team came together and accomplished something that hadn’t been done since 2010: winning a sectional title.

That sectional match was undoubtedly an exciting one, against a familiar Covenant Christian rival. The Giants lost to Covenant 3-2 earlier in the season, with Wills falling in straight sets to her No. 1 singles opponent. Come around to sectional championship time, and Wills’ match was again the difference.

But this time, it went down a little differently. Wills defeated her same opponent from earlier in the year in straight sets, 6-3 6-1, and secured the sectional title for the team. It stands today as her favorite memory playing tennis here at Ben Davis.

“If I could narrow it down to a single snapshot, it would have to be the moment I first walked off the court after winning the sectional match, already in tears, being engulfed in a giant hug by the rest of my team. It was such a great feeling. I can’t really put it into words,” Wills said.

Wills herself finished with twelve wins on the season, a performance that went down in the record books. Those twelve wins tied her for fourth all-time for No. 1 singles victories in a season. She’s pretty satisfied with a legacy like that.

“I’ve looked at those records since I was a freshman and have always said “Man, I want to earn my spot in there,” and knowing that I have actually achieved that is incredible. The feeling that comes with knowing that some girl just like me four years ago will be seeing my name, thinking the same thing I was and will be using that as fuel to work towards getting better is awesome,” Wills said.

The mood of this season was maybe a bit bittersweet, as the seniors weren’t the only ones experiencing their last year. Head coach Kevin Vanderbush marked this season as his last, and the team knew they had to make this year special. It’s a sad moment to see a head coach go, but the team rallied around making him proud in his final season.

“The team atmosphere was amazing. We all seemed to just click together and had so much fun competing. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to spend my last season with. And knowing that it was Vanderbush’s last year, I think that gave us even more drive than before to fight for every victory,” Wills said.

As the team moves on into the next season, and Wills sadly moves on to Purdue, the future of BD girls tennis still looks very bright. Mya Carter and Olivia Heifner, No. 2 and 3 singles this year, are both sophomores and can only improve as their own high school tennis careers grow. Wills hopes her younger teammates have picked up a few things from her as they go their separate ways.

“There’s many things that I hope the younger girls learned from me this year. The first is that playing in the offseason is the only way to really improve your own skills and become a more confident player,” Wills said.

“Second, keeping your composure in tough matches is key. Three, even though we’re all playing our own individual matches, unity within the team is such a powerful component. And also, it’s never too late to fight your way back into winning the match.”

She has the highest hopes for her team and community in the upcoming years. Leaving something that had such an impact on your life is tough, but she’s thankful for her time here and knows the program is in good hands.

“I hope that the girls reflect back on what made this season so successful. And I hope they keep the fun in the sport and don’t put so much pressure on themselves,” Wills said.

“I have felt so supported by the athletic family at BD and the teachers and students I see on a regular basis. Coach Vanderbush has been the biggest mentor and supporter in my life these past four years and I owe so much to him. He has given me everything I’ve needed to succeed and has taught me life lessons beyond the tennis court.”

Over, but not forgotten. And we here at Ben Davis won’t be forgetting a player the likes of Savannah Wills for a long time.