Who’s that Bulldog? It’s Halli Essington, a standout tennis player for the Lady Bulldogs.
Halli is a senior and the only child of Kevin and Cindy Essington. “I didn’t like being an only child when I was younger,” she says, “but I love it now.”
Her fellow tennis players might have something to do with that. “We’re very close and call the team our second family. We talk to each other all the time. We’re all friends, and there’s never any drama between us. It stays that way pretty much all year long, too.”
She says not only are her teammates her second family, Coach Abbey Trapp has also taken on the role of “second mom.” “We all have a close bond with her, too. I like hanging out at her house and playing with her kids.”
She says Coach Trapp has influenced her in several positive ways. “She’s a very encouraging coach. She knows if we’re having a bad day or a bad match and she knows just how to change it. She knows our personalities. If I’m playing really bad, she knows just what to say to put me in a better mood, which helps me play better, too.”
Halli took part in tennis camps in the summer in her younger
years but really got into the sport as a seventh grader. “I always like the summer camps.”
This is Hali’s fifth season on varsity. She has played at the No. 1 singles position on the team for three seasons and has been paired with MHS graduate Jodi DeVaal and her current partner, Hattie Muellenbach, at the No. 1 doubles spot for four years.
As an eighth grader, she won the consolation championship title at the No. 6 singles position at the state tournament. She was also the consolation champion at No. 1 singles her sophomore season. Last year, when the state split the tennis classes into A and AA, Halli placed fourth at No. 1 singles and third at No. 1 doubles.
Today and tomorrow, she is participating in the 2020 South Dakota State Tennis Tournament. Before leaving for Rapid City with the team, she said she feels her senior year has been her best season yet. “I have more wins than losses. So far, I’ve only lost twice. Heading into the state tourney, Halli said she hopes to place in the top three in both singles and doubles. “Being accomplished at tennis is something a lot of people don’t expect of Milbank because we’re a small town. So, when I’m recognized with my uniform on, it’s a lot of fun.”
In addition to tennis, Halli is involved in FFA with the floriculture team, Just For Kix dance, and is a member of the Milbank Honor Society. Her favorite classes are math, art, and psychology.
In her free time, she enjoys eating any type of pasta, listening to the top hits music, and hanging out with her friends to play more tennis. “I probably play tennis about four times a week outside of practices and matches,” she says. She also admits to being is extremely goofy. “I come off as a shy person, but once you get to know me, I’m goofy and out there.”
She would like to attend Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Paul, Minnesota, or Northern State in Aberdeen to pursue a degree in elementary education. “I teach tennis lessons in the summers,” she says, “and found I really like working with younger kids. So, I thought, ‘Why not teach them?’”
Keep up with The Valley Express for news about Halli and the Lady Bulldogs at the 2020 South Dakota Girls’ Tennis Tournament.
Photo courtesy of VPD Studio