Coming off possibly her best year of tennis, Meghan Buell stepped away from the sport for seven weeks this summer.
Buell, a 2011 New Albany High School graduate and junior at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, finished fourth in singles at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Small College Championships in October 2012 -- one day after placing second in doubles with teammate Claire Cahill. But instead of overthinking what got her to such lofty heights, Buell focused on her pursuit of an accounting degree and took an internship in London, England.
"I have never taken that long off from tennis. I'd never even been out of the country before," said Buell, who was one of more than a dozen Washington & Lee students taking classes and filling internships in London. "I really missed tennis, but I got to go to Wimbledon and have some incredible experiences. But it's good to be back and I hope I'm ready to go this fall."
Buell returns to school at the end of the month, ready to build on last year's accomplishments. She went 20-8 in singles, won the ITA Southeast Region championship and advanced to the third-place match at the national championships, losing to Brittni Fausett of Mary-Hardin Baylor 6-1, 7-6 (14-12). Buell previously lost to Gabrielle Clark of Emory 6-2, 6-0 in a semifinal and finished the season ranked 23rd nationally by the ITA.
In doubles, Buell and Cahill defeated Courtney Lawless and Alyssa Roberg of Whitman 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 in a national semifinal before falling to Clark and Emma Taylor 6-1, 6-2. Buell was 23-8 in doubles with five partners.
"A lot of people have called me 'a pusher' because I get every ball back and I tend to frustrate whoever I'm playing," Buell said. "I think that's always been my strongest suit. I've never been the strongest or biggest person, but I have endurance and I'm persistent."
Buell was 17-4 in singles and 36-6 in doubles as a freshman in 2011. That came on the heels of a spectacular high school career that was highlighted by her 2009 Division I state doubles championship with Maddie Kobelt, who now plays at Syracuse. Buell and Kobelt went 12-0 that postseason and defeated Taylor Holden and Carolyn Pitman of Liberty Township Lakota East 6-2, 6-2 in the final.
In 2010, Buell advanced to her third state tournament and first in singles but fell to Hudson's Alex Bastock 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 in a first-round match that took 3 hours, 5 minutes.
Buell also made state in 2008 but lost in the first round of doubles with 2009 graduate Amy Nini.
"(The state title) was absolutely the biggest moment," said Buell, who also was valedictorian of her senior class and has spent time teaching tennis to children at the New Albany Tennis Center. "We worked really hard that entire season and Maddie and I just made a good team. (A state championship) was our big goal. I still feel like we had an amazing season."
As for what it will take for Buell to exceed last season's accomplishments, she knows there is plenty of work ahead.
"This next month, I plan to do a lot of running," she said. "I worked out as much as I could in London. I try to run five miles a day, do basic cardio and work on my endurance. I played some long matches last year, and I know I'm going to have to work hard to prepare for the fall. We don't lose anyone from our lineup."