A majority of the college tennis season awaits Cleveland State and already former Parkersburg High School standout Alex Bush is approaching an impressive feat in the history of the program.
On Thursday, Bush and her teammates were en route to St. Louis, Mo. for a series of meets this weekend against Saint Louis and Southern Illinois. Already having 50 singles victories during her career with the Vikings, the senior needs just one more win to enter the top 10 all-time in women's tennis at Cleveland State.
"Honestly, I haven't thought about it until this year when someone told me," Bush said. "I try not to think about it, but I do think it's impressive and exciting."
In her final year with the program, Bush has taken the initiative to provide leadership for the younger members of the team. On one particular day, Cleveland State women's tennis coach Brian Etzkin was sitting in his office when Bush walked in and expressed her desire to provide a more positive energy in camp.
"Alex is definitely a leader," Etzkin said. "I'll miss her after this season. She has been a warrior, and she is someone that the team can come to for anything off the court.
"She has been a good teammate, and I thought that really developed from her freshman to her senior year."
After an illustrious high school career which included the Mountain State Athletic Conference Player of the Year as a senior as well as two individual state titles and the most singles wins in a career at PHS, Bush arrived at Cleveland State and immediately made an impact by earning second team honors in the Horizon League.
She battled through injuries with her shin as a sophomore, but bounced back as a second-team All-Horizon League selection as a junior.
"The injury has been lingering for about two years but I've gotten through it," Bush said.
This season, Bush has primarily played No. 2 singles. Her versatility allows coach Etzkin to shuffle the lineup when needed.
"It's a unique situation," Etzkin said. "Alex can play one through six in singles and one through three in doubles, and still give us a chance to win."
The task at hand is winning the Horizon League. The coaches' preseason poll tabbed the Vikings to finish second, but several schools are in contention. Including Illinois-Chicago, which has captured the last 17 conference titles.
"Winning the conference championship is No. 1 on our list, and I think we can definitely do it." Bush said.
Bush will complete her studies in the summer. Last semester, she turned in a 3.4 grade-point average, which was her best effort to date. As a double-major in health sciences and psychology, she still is undecided where her degree will take her. Sports psychology is one option.
"After the tennis season is over, I'll take a little bit of a break from the sport," Bush said. "I need to figure out what I am doing career-wise."
As long as she continues to receive the support of her parents, Kenny and Kelly Bush, who attend as many home meets as possible, along with the enthusiasm of her teammates, Alex Bush should land on her feet both athletically and career-wise.
"My parents have supported my whole tennis career," Alex said. "As far as the team, it feels like a family. The players are always so much louder at meets than in high school. They are really competitive."
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org