VEEDERSBURG — This season for Fountain Central girls tennis will go down in history as one of the best. A 16-2 overall record, WRC Champions, the first sectional title since 2017 and most of all FC had fun doing it all. Senior Lillie Fishero was the leader of the Mustangs successful season. The No. 1 singles player finished her season with a 22-1 overall record with her only loss coming in the Regional Semi-Final. Fishero was named the Bi-County singles champion and made first-team All-WRC along with the team accolades that she helped the Mustangs accomplish.
Fishero was thrown into the fire from very beginning, playing one singles since her freshman season. With her sophomore year being taken away due to COVID-19, that left Fishero’s junior year as her chance to begin to shine, and she took full advantage of the opportunity.
“I give her all the credit because she continued to put in the work even when our season got canceled,” FC coach David Kight said. “Near the end of her junior season, she really started to lay down the foundation for what this year would be for her. Her confidence started to grow and she knew that she started to close the gap on some of the other one singles players out there. This season Lillie’s mental game was probably the best of anyone I’ve ever coached. She thought the game just so much better than most people do at the high school level.”
While losing her sophomore year wasn’t ideal Fishero talked about how that actually benefited her in the long run.
“It really allowed me to gain a better appreciation for the sport and allowed me to make the most of the time I’m given,” she said. “This year was a great year to go out on for sure.”
With all of the accolades and the Fishero being at the helm of the Mustangs success, Fishero is the 2022 Journal Review’s Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
With getting to play at the one singles spot since her freshman season, that has allowed her to develop the mindset of what it takes to play at the top spot. She’s seen the competition and has gotten every team’s best so during this past season, nothing was going to catch her off guard.
“This year I went into it knowing that I’ve been put in this spot for a reason,” she said. “I wasn’t afraid of any opponent and treated everyone the same. I knew that every match I played in, I could win.”
Fishero’s ability to adjust and adapt quickly during matches is something that set her apart from the rest this season according to Kight. She had a unique ability to play many different styles of tennis which added to already natural talent on the court.
“It took her maybe just a game to figure out what her opponent was doing and how she could exploit that,” Kight said. “Her being so versatile in the way she could play almost any style was a big reason for her success. She found out this season she could play with pace, but she could also be the aggressor. It didn’t matter the opponent this season for her because with her past experience, nothing was going to surprise her.”
While Kight will credit Fishero for her success, Fishero will be the first to throw the credit right back as the relationship the two have built over the course of the last four years has been a special one. Add in assistant (and boys head coach) Chris Webb in the mix, and it’s developed into one of the best coach/player relationships you could ask for.
“I truly believe that we have the best coaches in the area,” Fishero said of Kight and Webb. “They’ll get on us and make sure that we’re doing the best that we can. I used to get on Coach Kight for being so mean to us, but knew he just wanted the best out of us. I’ve been completely blessed with two of the best coaches and if wasn’t for them I wouldn’t the player that I am today.”
The leadership that Fishero has had with the Mustangs doesn’t just stop at the high school level. While the Mustangs had some underclassmen playing varsity this season, the impact that Fishero has had on the FC program trickles down even to the junior high level.
“I had a junior high parent tell me just recently that Lillie really made the kids at the junior high feel like they were a part of the varsity team,” Kight said of Fishero’s leadership. “She’s always been a vocal leader for us and had to lead as junior as well. She’s just an all-around people person and loves being around everyone. She also knew the goals that she herself and the team wanted to accomplish and was going to do anything she could to meet those goals and make our team better.”
Along with the entire Fountain Central team that will be talked about for quite some time, Fishero individually has been one of the top players to ever come through the Mustang program. Kight continued to do nothing but praise Fishero as he talked about what she will mean to FC tennis and the impact that she leaves behind.
“We haven’t had a singles player have that kind of year in about a decade,” Kight said. “In the 21-22 years we’ve had a program, we’ve probably only had four or five other season like Lillie’s ever. She’s right up there at the top and will be the one that many people talk about because a lot of our kids coming up through the program have seen her play. She;ll be the example that we use that it doesn’t matter where you start, if you want to better you can do just that. Her mental toughness will get brought up a ton as she could always figure something out. She was the perfect example that you can learn from situations that aren’t ideal. Lillie was just as great of a player when she played from behind and she’d raise of her level of play.”
Fishero has helped put FC girls tennis back on the map and her impact will be talked about and remembered for quite some time.
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