Girls Tennis: Gardner's team spirit stays strong

Rochelle senior Ruth Gardner worked her way into a leading varsity role over her last two seasons with the Lady Hub tennis program. (File photo by Russell Hodges)

Lady Hub senior shines in singles and doubles at RTHS

Rochelle Township High School senior Ruth Gardner always kept one goal in mind throughout her three years with the Lady Hub tennis program. Regardless of whether or not the Lady Hubs walked away from the courts with a victory, Gardner never lost her team spirit.

Gardner spent her first season on the junior varsity team as a sophomore before working her way up to varsity matches over her junior and senior years. The right-handed netter played a key role in some of Rochelle’s biggest victories in recent seasons including a three-point comeback against Rockford Lutheran this past fall, when Gardner celebrated her 18th birthday with a three-set doubles win that helped the Lady Hubs notch a 3-2 team victory.

“I first started playing my sophomore year because I was looking for something to do in the fall,” Gardner said. “It looked like a sport that didn’t require a lot of prior experience and it seemed like a really fun sport to play… I enjoyed seeing my teammates grow into something more than themselves. Even the new freshmen grew immensely… We always had fun on the bus rides and sang songs together, and even when we lost a match, we didn’t lose our spirit.”

Gardner also contributed to Rochelle’s 3-2 win against Belvidere in 2019, picking up a doubles victory with teammate Jordin Dickey. Gardner’s senior season included three doubles wins as well as back-to-back singles wins against Aurora Central Catholic and Princeton. She said her service skills led to the majority of her improvements with the Lady Hubs this past fall.

“I improved the most on my serves,” Gardner said. “I watched a lot of good servers during my first year with the team and they inspired me. They motivated me to train more on my serving… My favorite moments were Senior Night and our tournament days. What the tennis program taught me was never to judge a book by its cover. I faced so many different types of people who looked one way but wound up surprising me, so I’ve been carrying that with me.”

Gardner said she plans to attend Sauk Valley Community College to study digital media and film. She said her hope is to become a film director or work somewhere in the film industry.

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