The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

October 29, 2013

2013 Star Beacon All-Ashtabula County Girls Tennis: Alyx the great!

Lynham earned her way up the ladder at Geneva

Alyx Lynham’s tennis career at Geneva is the stuff movies are made of. She began her career with the Eagles as a doubles player during her freshman season before moving up to third singles as a sophomore.

She appeared to be locked into that same position heading into her junior campaign as two very good players sat above her on the depth chart. Lynham wasn’t satisfied with her role, so she set about changing it.

The daughter of Cynthia and Denis Lynham went to work, spending nearly 40 hours a week working at her craft and leap-frogged the two players ahead of her to take over the spot at first singles. In the process, she became the Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the Year for the 2012 season.

“When I was a freshman, Anna (Forman) and Alex (Clarke) were a grade above me,” Alyx said. “That’s what pushed me, what made me better. I always wanted to be No. 1. That’s definitely what pushed me.”

“She wanted it,” Geneva coach Scott Torok said. “She had to climb a little higher than most. She had to climb a pretty big ladder and she didn’t stop until she got to the top. She can thank Anna and Alex for that.”

The credits may have rolled at that point for most players. They’d have been satisfied with their lot and cruised on through to graduation.

Not Lynham. She decided being top player in the county and earning a berth at the district tournament with doubles partner Anna Forman was simply not enough and went back to work.   

“What I learned at a young age was you can always get better,” Lynham said. “I pushed myself to get better. I watched and took advantage of playing against (former Eagle great) Leslie (Douglass) and being coached by her. I played against Courtney (Thompson, a 4-time Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the Year).

“I learned you can never take in too much information. Everyone can help you in their own way.

“I’ve taken information from a lot of people. I learned from a young age never to underestimate people. I’m still learning. I never had the feeling I was the best so I could just stop working. There’s always someone better. That’s why I always strive to be the best I can be.”

That attitude solidified Lynham’s legacy as she earned Player of the Year honors again in 2013 and teamed with freshman Amy Varckette to make a run that didn’t end until the pair had qualified for the Division II state tournament.    

“It’s really awesome to have my senior year,” Lynham said. “It’s a good surprise. It’s very awesome. It makes me glad to know. I’ve been working hard at tennis since seventh grade. It shows other people that if they put the work in, success will come for them.”

In a way, Lynham was just following in the footsteps of the Eagles who soared before her. She also knew she was the program’s link between the past and the future

“I watched how Courtney was at the court every single day,” Lynham said. “From that point on, I decided it was what I should do if I wanted to accomplish my goals of getting to the district and state. It’s what I had to do. I hope I lived up to her example and I hope I set that example for Amy and the rest of the girls to follow.

“The first practice, I got goose bumps. I told myself I had to become a leader. If I put in the hard work, they might, too, and it will make them become better players. All I want is for the team to be the best it can be.”

“That’s why it’s called a tradition,” Torok said. “It started back with (Courtney) Brenkus. There was a little lull between her and Leslie, then there was Colleen Hall, Bethany Brenkus, Elizabeth Hall and Courtney Thompson.

“She sets a good blueprint as an example to others.”

Torok saw the potential Lynham had to raise the level of play with the rest of the Eagles and made a point of putting her in a position to best help them.

“This year, I made her captain,” he said. “It’s nice for her to come in and take over and help the team. She leads by example. She always works hard.

“I point Alyx out to the other girls and say, ‘Look at Alyx. She was the Player of the Year and she’s still working hard.’”

There were times where Lynham wanted to step back and take a break. Her support system never allowed for her to do so, forever reminding her of her aspirations. With time, the pushing stopped as Lynham began to enjoy the extra work.

“My family, my mom and dad, even Brock (Ebersole), my boyfriend, are all very supportive,” Lynham said. “They’ve all driven me to become the player I am today.

“At the beginning, in the winter, my dad would beg me to go to the gym an extra day during the week,” Lynham said. “In the end, I wanted to do it myself. My goals to get to state became my most important goal. Achieving that goal was always in the front of my mind. He reminded me of it my freshman year. I am definitely lucky to have such a supportive family who drives me the way they do in academics and sports.”

In a way, having to work up the ladder the way she did — going from doubles to singles to No. 1 — only helped Lynham mature as a player.

“Playing doubles definitely made me a well-rounded player,” Lynham said. “From a young age, it made me communicate with the people around me.”

Lynham climbing that ladder was enjoyable to watch.

“She is still a little girl,” Torok said. “It’s amazing what she’s accomplished. I can’t believe four years has gone by this quick. She started at doubles, then moved to singles and made it to the top. It’s a great story.”      

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula. Reach him at bettinger@starbeacon.com.

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