As a freshman, Dhruthi Daggubati couldn’t quite see her rise to local tennis prominence.
“I am surprised,” said Daggubati, a Batavia senior. “I never would have imagined that I would make it this far.”
Daggubati slowly dug her way to the top. After spending her first season on junior varsity, Daggubati rose to No. 3 singles and then No. 1 singles her final two varsity seasons.
“I think it started to hit me my sophomore year,” Daggubati said. “I was playing No. 3 singles [and] we had some seniors graduating, so I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m going to be in the [top] spot next year. After getting stressed out about it, I used that to motivate me.
“I want to do this. I want to succeed. I don’t just want to meet the expectations, but I want to exceed them. I worked so, so hard in the offseason after my sophomore year. I did more private lessons. I would go, even if no one was there to play with me, I’d go to a court and work on my serves for an hour and a half. I just kept working. I feel like it really paid off.”
After consecutive 30-win seasons, qualifying for state twice and winning both the DuKane Conference and sectional meets at singles her senior season, Daggubati has every reason to smile and reflect back fondly on the journey to get there.
“If you look at her record against opponents that qualified for state in Class 1A and 2A [this season], she played 25 state qualifiers,” Batavia coach Brad Nelson said. “She was 19-6 in those matches, so she had a very good record against girls that qualified for state. The six girls that she lost to, I think, all made the sweet 16 or the elite eight. She definitely was worthy of being at that state tournament.”
Daggubati finished her senior season 30-8 and was the engine behind the Bulldogs’ fourth consecutive conference title and second consecutive sectional title.
For her accomplishments, Daggubati is the 2022 Kane County Chronicle Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
“What made her so good? … Dhruthi was a cerebral player in the way that she developed her game plan as the match unfolded,” Nelson said. “She would figure out weaknesses. She’d go after those weaknesses. She had a wide variety of shots she would use. Some players will kind of rely on a heavy topspin forehand or a pounding backhand. She could do a little bit of that, but she could slice. She could hit some nice lobs and loopier balls and do whatever it took. … That’s what made her stand out.”
To Daggubati, her dominance partially stems from just going into a given tournament or meet with the mentality she can play with nothing to lose.
“I will always go in with the attitude where I can play with absolutely nothing to lose. I can play my best. I can learn from this person who is better than me,” Daggubati said. “And maybe get a few games off of them. … I feel like that’s helped me improve constantly even during the season. I feel like that’s how I am able to become a better player. Working, even on matches that I’m not going to win, and becoming a better player in general.”
Daggubati observed one opponent she played in a tournament would “absolutely rip it” on a backhand or wide ball if she was set up for it.
“I was like, ‘Why don’t I go for some risky shots once in a while,’” Daggubati said. “Or I should honestly get there faster, set myself up, and if I feel comfortable enough, go for a winner. Even if it’s kind of a difficult shot from a different angle.”
“She never really got rattled,” Nelson said. “She was strong mentally. She was able to hold it together.”
And Nelson said Daggubati’s “character is outstanding.”
“She’s very honest. She’s very thoughtful and considerate of her opponents,” Nelson said. “Just a great all-around kid. A great student in the classroom and just a pleasure to coach.”
All Area List
Singles: Dhruthi Daggubati, Batavia, senior; Allison Gizewicz, St. Charles North, junior; Kelsey Jacob, St. Charles East, freshman; Audrey O’Connell, Batavia, senior; Sofia Radovic, St. Charles East, senior, Ashley Rajcevich, St. Francis, freshman
Doubles: Erin Connolly and Julia Arulandu, Batavia; Shannon Lu and Alyssa Joseph, St. Charles North; Kate Lauger and Avary Sitarz, St. Charles East; Elen Ryson and Madelyn Hoden, St. Francis; Annabelle Tomko and Juliana Drew, Geneva