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April 18, 2014

ON THE SPOT: Borden senior Abby Ellis

Ellis, Borden hungry for a sectional championship

BORDEN — Abby Ellis has known nothing but success during her regular-season tennis career.

The Borden Braves’ girls tennis team has won eight Southern Athletic Conference titles in a row, and it would take a major update to keep them from No. 9 in 2014. The past two seasons, they’ve won all five SAC matches by 5-0 scores.

Borden hasn’t lost a regular-season match in nearly three full years — since Ellis was the Braves’ No. 3 singles player as a freshman.

As the team’s No. 1 player the past two seasons, Ellis has played a key role in the program’s success.

“She knows that she’s going to get the best competition regardless,” Borden coach Ross Shauver said, “whether we run into a team we think we can beat handily or a great team. She knows she always has to play well and, to be honest, I think that helps her. It keeps her from ever having letdowns.”

However, the postseason hasn’t been so kind. To be more specific, Silver Creek has been mighty unkind. The 11-time defending sectional champion Dragons have eliminated the Braves each of the past three years, including last season when Ellis was one of three Borden players/doubles teams to fall in a 3-2 heartbreaker. The Dragons have beaten Borden 3-2 in each of the past three seasons.

In order to win a sectional, the Braves may have to overcome a loss by Ellis, who will likely face arguably the area’s best player in Silver Creek’s Kat Hebble.

That doesn’t lessen Ellis’ role in a potential sectional run, Shauver said.

“What she brings to the team is constantly going up against the rest of the singles players [in practice], making them better. She makes us better as a team,” Shauver said. “I know it’s a hard thing to know that when she runs into Silver Creek, she’s up against an impossible situation. But her role is extremely important.”

Last Saturday, Borden breezed to a New Albany Invitational championship against a field that included the host Bulldogs, who have won 16 straight sectional crowns. In two weeks, the Braves will face four-time defending sectional champion Jeffersonville, which the Braves beat a year ago, in the Jeff Invitational. Ellis beat New Albany’s Lauren Hoffer 6-4, 6-1 to take the No. 1 singles crown last weekend.

On Thursday, Ellis answered questions from sports editor Greg Mengelt about the program’s success, the 2014 season so far, last year’s disappointment and the Braves’ quest for their first-ever sectional crown in the News and Tribune’s ongoing On the Spot series.

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