When she joined the Trinity Lutheran tennis team last spring, Olivia Benter said she felt that the sport was the perfect fit.
Benter was playing volleyball her freshman year when she suffered a leg injury, and she moved from player to manager for the remainder of her career.
“It was a good opportunity, and it wasn’t as intense as some of the other sports with jumping,” she said. “I like being outside, and with my friends. It has given me a lot ways to develop and work on strength and speed.”
The senior played junior varsity doubles most of last season and also competed in a few singles matches.
“I prefer doubles,” Benter said. “I like being able to work with other people. I also like singles, though, because it also shows that you can watch yourself improve. I’ll play wherever I’ll most benefit the team.”
Benter played doubles in Trinity’s opening match of the season Monday at Austin.
She said communicating with your doubles partner is a must.
“When the ball is hit it’s mainly ‘you take it’ or ‘I take it,’” Benter said. “Playing up and back there is a certain rotation that you do. It depends on who is serving and stuff.
“So mainly you have to communicate to decide to who is going to take the ball and who has the best angle to this ball to win a point.”
Benter, who is right-handed, said, “I prefer standing on the left side so I have more of the court to play with my right hand. My backhand is not as strong.”
Putting in the time on the court, Benter has seen her service game improve.
“My serving wasn’t the greatest when I started out last year,” Benter said. “It has improved a lot this year. Last year I didn’t get my first serve in, but this year I’ve improved a lot. I’m getting most of my first serves in. If not I fall back to my doubles serve.
“I’ve learned the correct form now, which has really helped me. You just get a lot of power behind them and, and you want them deep in the box.”
Benter said she thinks it’s important to get off to a good start with a win in the first set.
“It’s pretty important because then it gives you some adrenaline, and you know you have a chance beating the other girl, where if you lose your ‘oh man, this girl is tough,” Benter said.
“Practice is very important. That is where you learn all your skills, and you scrimmage the other girls so you’re ready for matches. If you don’t practice, in a match you’re not prepared, and you don’t know what to expect. You’ve got to be ready for every scenario.
“A positive outlook is definitely important because if you get in your head that you can can’t do something it makes it a lot harder to do it. If I’m out on the courts serving, and I miss my first serve and I don’t think I can get my second serve in, the odds of me getting that second serve in are less, so a positive outlook and attitude is really important.”
Benter said you definitely have to pay attention to your opponents’ weaknesses during warmups.
While she couldn’t play, she was happy to stay with the volleyball team in another role.
“It was really hard to start with in volleyball because I had some setbacks and couldn’t really play after my surgery,” Benter said. “It was kind of hard to watch the sport that I loved, but then it gave me a great opportunity to stay involved with it and continue helping the other girls and being part of the team.”
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Name: Olivia Benter
School: Trinity Lutheran
Parents: Mike and Linda Benter
Siblings: Nate, Anna and Lena
Sports: Volleyball, four years; tennis, two years
Athletic highlights: Tennis most improved; volleyball senior award
Organizations: National Honor Society, student ambassadors, FFA, 4-H
Plans after high school: Attend Purdue University, study early childhood education and exceptional needs
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Q: What are home matches like?
A: “I like the home matches because that’s where I’m used to playing. There is a lot of wind sometimes because there is not a lot of blockage. You just have to either hit the ball harder or hit it softer depending which way the wind is blowing. It is something we adjust to during practice.”
Q: Favorite away tennis courts?
A: “Seymour has nice courts, and Salem has nice courts. They’re spread out, and that is the only thing I don’t like about them.”
Q: Why did you decide to attend TLHS?
A: “I chose Trinity because when I came and shadowed everybody had a positive attitude and they were all really welcoming. Also, it’s great place to continue learning about my faith in Christ because I learned about it in eighth grade, but I extended that also in high school, which is a really cool thing. I feel really prepared for the future next year. I think the teachers have done a great job doing that.
“It’s been a great experience, and I’ve enjoyed being able to be involved in a lot of different activities.”