Alexsia Drulias played “the best tennis” of her life this season. For the first time, she felt, she was able to take control of all of her matches.

Drulias, a junior at Garces, did not lose a Southwest Yosemite League or city singles match all year long and was also part of a Central Section championship winning doubles team. She earned 2018 BVarsity All-Area Girls Tennis Singles Player of the Year honors and was part of the 2018 BVarsity All-Area Girls Tennis Doubles Team of the Year.

Drulias is the first player in the history of the awards, dating back to 1984, to be named singles player of the year and be part of the doubles team of the year in the same season. The singles player of the year award was her second in a row. The doubles team of the year honor was Drulias’ second after winning it with her sister as a freshman.

“It was just a culmination of a lot of hard work,” Garces head coach Barb Johnston Hill said. “She decided she was gonna take a little bit of time off after the season last year and then just hit it hard until the season started again. I think it really paid off for her to get out there and grind it away all summer and got in good shape. Even the matches she didn't play well, she was able to grind them out, so physically and mentally I think she made a big leap this year.”

What set this year apart from the last two for Drulias was that she was a more offensive player. In the past, she would wait until the opportunity arose to hit a winner. This season, she purposefully hit shots to put herself into an offensive position and give herself a chance at a winner.

She had more variety in her groundstrokes, Johnston Hill added.

In Garces’ Central Section Division I team quarterfinals loss to Buchanan, Drulias won her match in No. 1 singles and then teamed up with the Rams’ No. 4 player, Stephanie Mercado, to take down Buchanan’s No. 1 and No. 2 in doubles.

Johnston Hill thought it was Drulias’ best match of the year.

The coach also brought up the second meeting between Garces and Liberty in league play. Drulias wasn’t playing or feeling that well, Johnston Hill said, and had a tough opponent in Payton Renz. Drulias eked out the first set, 7-6, and fell behind, 5-3, in the second set before winning four of the next fives games.

“I’ve improved a lot in I think almost every area,” Drulias said. “I had such a strong singles year this year the best singles year that I’ve ever had.”

Drulias has her sights set on improving her net play and serving before coming back for her senior year next season.

“She just really toughened up this summer physically and mentally,” Johnston Hill said. “I think that just showed on the court this year.”

Jon Mettus can be reached at 661-395-7389. Follow him on Twitter: @jmettus.

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