LEADING THE WAY: Braves four-year No. 1 singles player named county player of the year

At the conclusion of each match, Laken Reynolds put her racket aside and picked up a small notepad and a writing utensil.

Replaying the points in her head, she jotted down what worked, what needed to be worked on, where she excelled and what cost her.

Despite playing at No. 1 singles all four years of her career at Brownstown Central, Reynolds always looked to improve her game.

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In her senior season, all of the hard work came to a thrilling finish.

Reynolds had a record of 12-4 and advanced to the championship match in the individual sectional by beating Austin’s No. 1 singles player at Bloomington High School North.

While Reynolds came up short in the finals, losing 6-3, 7-5 to Bloomington South, she ended her career playing some of the best tennis of her life.

For all of her accomplishments this season, The Tribune has named Reynolds the 2018 Jackson County Girls Tennis Player of the Year.

Since her freshman year, Braves coach Erik Stangland knew Reynolds would leave an impact on the program.

“She came in her freshman year and was able to beat the No. 1 in challenge matches to take the No. 1 spot,” Stangland said. “She earned it, and it was a sign that we had someone who would have four years. To play in matches and challenge as a freshman, challenging seniors, it was impressive. At that point, we knew she would be a really fantastic player. Having that for four years has been a highlight.”

Reynolds came into the high school program with little training.

“She plays what we call ‘street tennis,’” Stangland said. “She didn’t have a lot of lessons and training. To gut out all of those points where someone with better ground strokes wouldn’t have to work as hard, for her to stay in matches and beat people who were probably better, to come out on the winning side, it was amazing to watch. That takes a lot of effort, and she needs to be commended by all of that work.”

In her senior season, Reynolds said she started slow before really gaining momentum.

“Starting out, I had some rough matches,” she admitted. “I started playing really well toward the end of the season. When it came time for sectional, one of the main things I focused on was playing smarter and not harder. I didn’t want to waste all my energy when all I had to do was place it.”

At the team’s recent awards program, Reynolds was named the most valuable player for a fourth straight year.

While she will miss the game, Reynolds said it’s the people she will remember the most.

“I’m going to miss the team,” she said. “We had a good relationship throughout. Even if we lost, we were close. It was just a family feeling.

“Going in playing No. 1 at varsity was a little rough. I lost most of the matches. Now, I look back, and it was all good experiences. It built me up for everything that I accomplished this year.”

Stangland said Reynolds leaves a legacy at BCHS.

“It’s something for the other girls to look at and say, ‘That’s where I want to be at my senior year,’” he said. “I don’t know that we will have another girl that will play No. 1 freshman through senior year.”

While Reynolds will no longer play for the Braves, she plans on coming back and watching some matches next season. Her sister, Lacy Daulton, is an assistant coach for the team.

“Lacy will still be coaching, and I plan to attend most of the home games with her,” Reynolds said. “The girls below me are my team. I’m going to support them until they graduate.”

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Joining Laken Reynolds on the 2018 All-Jackson County Girls Tennis Team are:

Grace Otte, Seymour, Senior

Accomplishments: 7 wins at No. 1 singles, All-Hoosier Hills Conference, SHS MVP.

Courtney Barker, Trinity Lutheran, Senior

Accomplishments: 7 wins at No. 1 singles, first Trinity player to advance to individual state tournament.

Olivia Hackman, Brownstown Central, Sophomore

Accomplishments: 11 wins at No. 2 singles, All-Mid-Southern Conference, BCHS mental attitude award.

Madison Pifer, Seymour, senior

Accomplishments: 8 wins at No. 1 doubles, SHS 110% award.

Kristina Griffin, Seymour, junior

Accomplishments: 8 wins at No. 1 doubles, SHS most improved award.

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Rachel Adkins, Brownstown Central, sophomore

Carly Brown, Brownstown Central, sophomore

Sydney Cockerham, Brownstown Central, senior

Sandra Cerino, Seymour, freshman

Mallory Moore, Seymour, freshman

Avery Ragon, Seymour, freshman

Macey Prewitt, Trinity Lutheran, senior

Lauren Fleetwood, Trinity Lutheran, junior

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2018 Jackson County Girls Tennis Player of the Year

Laken Reynolds, Brownstown Central, senior

Accomplishments: 12-5 record at No.1 singles, advanced to sectional championship of individual state tournament, All-Mid-Southern Conference, four years at No. 1 singles, four-year BCHS MVP.