By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
Alyx Lynham and Amy Varckette spent the vast majority of their time taking care of business all by themselves as the top two singles players on the Geneva tennis team.
After joining forces for the Division II sectional tennis tournament, it was clear the each of the players had to adjust to having someone else on her side of the net.
“We had to get used to each other,” Lynham said. “We actually have good chemistry. Amy’s not afraid of the net. We both love the net, it ends points quickly. We adjusted well to each other. It happened a lot faster than I thought it would. It was a nice surprise.
“A big key for us when we played together that first time was we realized we had to communicate whether we’re down or we’re winning. We both played singles. We both tend to keep to ourselves. We really have to make sure we open up to each other.”
The chemistry between the senior, Lynham, and the freshman, Varckette, has led the Eagles to a berth in the Division II district tournament at Harvard and Stadium parks in Canton today after a third-place finish at the sectional.
“Alyx isn’t going to take over the match,” Geneva coach Scott Torok said. “That’s not her type of game. They’ve got to compliment each other.”
Lynham and Varckette will take to the Stadium Park courts at or near the 9 a.m. start time. They will play a team from St. Thomas Aquinas.
“We play a No. 2 from the Youngstown sectional, one of the teams from St. Thomas Aquinas,” Torok said. “We don’t know too much about them, but they are a traditionally good tennis school.”
Lynham is returning to the district tourney after having qualified last year with Anna Forman. That experience will help not only Lynham herself, but Varckette, as well.
“Alyx has been there and Amy has not,” Torok said. “I’m trying to let Alyx show Amy how it’s done.
“Hopefully, (Alyx’s experience) helps a lot, not only for her sake, but for Amy’s, as well. Amy’s green. She’s a freshman. I hope she takes it all in and builds on it for years to come.”
Varckette, for her part, knows she is getting to do something few players get to.
“I think it’s very exciting knowing I get to have this experience as a freshman,” she said. “I know a lot of girls don’t get to experience this their whole high school career.”
The duo qualified for the district tournament despite having played only a handful of matches together.
“I don’t think they’ve played their best match yet,” Torok said. “They’ve only played seven matches together. Hopefully, the best is yet to come.”
“I definitely think it would be great if keep improving, especially as the competition keeps getting stronger. We’ve had good days and bad days, but we keep improving every time we play,” Varckette said. “It would be great for Alyx to get to state her senior year.”
“I definitely agree (with Torok),” Lynham said. “We haven’t played horrinly, but I know we can play great tennis together. I think we all hope it will be today).”
Having reached the district, the Eagles have already reached expectations. They can simply enjoy the rest of the ride.
“One of the things is they’ve gotten this far, they’ve got nothing to lose,” Torok said. “It was a goal of theirs to get to the district level. Everything else is gravy.
“They want to do well, so there’s a little bit of pressure, but they just have to go out and play and do their best. That’s all I can ask of them.”
In a way, Lynham will be passing a torch to Varckette as their season winds down.
“I think about Alyx,” Torok said. “This is her swan song. I hate to see it end for her. She’s had a brilliant career. I feel for her. She’s been around for four years.
“In the same sense, Amy is a youngster on her way up. She has a bright, bright future.”
“I’ve definitely learned a lot from her,” Varckette said. “She started high school in doubles and worked her way up to No. 1. When she gives me advice, I definitely take it. She’s had a successful career and I want to become as successful as her.”
“I definitely look at it (like I’m passing the torch),” Lynham said. “I always hit with Courtney Thompson when I was younger. She was my mentor. I wish the best for Amy. She’ll be taking over the program. I always try and help her.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.