Alexsia Drulias knew it was going to be a significant jump moving from the No. 2 to No. 1 singles spot as a sophomore on the Garces girls tennis team.
Not only did she have to fill the void of the graduated seniors, but she also had to replace her older sister, Anastasia — a two-time BVarsity All-Area Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
“It’s a big step to go from No. 2 to No. 1 because every school has a good No. 1 it seems like,” Garces head coach Barb Johnston Hill said. “You don’t get any matches off. And you know, trying to fill the shoes of her big sister from last year, that was tough, too. But she worked hard and I thought she improved over the season quite a bit.”
Drulias won the Southwest Yosemite League singles title and lost in the quarterfinals of the Central Section playoffs. She was the highest-seeded girls singles player from Kern County at No. 6. Drulias became a leader on the Garces team and earned the distinction of BVarsity All-Area Girls Tennis Player of the Year for the 2017 season.
“It was competitive, but I thought I did well,” Drulias said of her season.
What separates Drulias on the court is her fearlessness, Johnston Hill said. She’ll set up her shots and take them when they’re there. Drulias will also play close to the net, which can surprise some opponents.
Drulias defeated Liberty junior Payton Renz, 6-3, 7-5, for the SWYL singles championship. The two also happened to be next door neighbors.
“My overall game has just improved,” Drulias said. “I can hit balls harder than I could. I can serve better than I could. I can move in better, so just overall, every area, I've gotten better.”
Maybe Drulias’ most important quality for Johnston Hill this season was the sophomore’s command of the team. Drulias was a captain and organized all the girls on a daily basis via a group text. Her leadership carried into matches, too.
During a match this season again Centennial, Drulias and doubles teammate Jackie Sala were down “a ton of set points,” Johnston Hill said. Drulias kept Sala, a freshman, composed on the court. Drulias even saved three match points. The duo eventually won the match, which in turn won the entire day for Garces, 5-4.
“I can talk to them in between (sets) but (Drulias) just really kept her calm on the court,” Johnston Hill said. “‘One point at a time. Let’s go. One point at a time.’ That sort of thing.”
Drulias didn’t feel much pressure to live up to her sister’s reputation and excelled this season in her own right. She’s focused on making sure she keeps improving and doesn’t plateau next year.
“Not really,” Drulias said when asked if there’s pressure. “Maybe a little bit, but I feel like I've upheld it pretty well so far and hopefully for the next two years can do it even better.”