With a pair of United States presidents, countless renowned scientists and writers and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick listed among its alumni, it's difficult for a student to make history at world-famous Phillips Academy.
But Andover's Lauren Wilmarth, with the help of twin sister Victoria Wilmarth, permanently etched her name into Big Blue lore thanks to her work on the tennis court.
The junior bested archrival Milton Academy's top player in the decisive match that gave Phillips Academy its first ever NEPSAC tourney title.
Over the past two seasons, quite a rivalry had grown between Phillips and Milton Academy. A year ago, the Big Blue cruised through the regular season undefeated, only to fall to Milton in the New England Prep tourney. This season, the Big Blue lost only once in the regular season, to Milton Academy.
"Initially it was a shock because we hadn't lost a (regular season) match in two years," said Lauren Wilmarth. "It was devastating, but it also made us stronger and we channeled our energy toward the tournament."
But advancing to the finals of the 15-team tourney held on May 24 wasn't easy.
In temperatures that reached the low 90s, Wilmarth had to win three matches to earn a berth in the finals. She did just that, but the work took a toll on her body.
"During the early matches my back began to hurt," she remembered. "I was scared because I had made it that far. But my mom (Mary Ann) is a physical therapist and she helped me stretch out. I sat in the shade and drank a lot of water and tried to keep my mind off it."
Another challenge waited in the finals in Milton's Sarah Miller, who had dealt Wilmarth a loss in the regular season.
"I knew she was coming," Wilmarth said. "I lost to her in the regular season, so I wanted the chance to play her again. I knew I had to work hard, focus and win it."
As her match was about to begin, Phillips coach Martha Grant was still occupied with the other Big Blue matches that were already in progress. So it was Victoria Wilmarth, who was not competing, that stepped up to coach her sister.
"Lauren and I have played together for so long that I can coach her," said Victoria Wilmarth. "I tried just to give her pointers and suggest shots to try. I didn't want to add any pressure."
But during the match, word came that she would decide the championship.
"I had an idea when the other (Phillips matches) were ending," said Lauren Wilmarth. "But then (senior captain) Maggie Maffione told me we needed my match to win the tournament.
"I tried not to psych myself out. I was feeling the pressure because I wanted to win it for my team. I knew I just had to stay focused. The whole team was 10 feet behind me trying to calm me down."
After needing a tie-breaker to win the first set, Wilmarth pulled away in the second set and won her match 7-6, 6-4 to clinch the title.
"It was really extraordinary," said Lauren Wilmarth. "I turned around and the whole team started screaming. I shook hands (with Miller), then the whole team ran onto the court and tackled me. We had never won it before, so this goes down in history."
On her own
Winning the NEPSAC added to the growing list of accomplishment for Lauren Wilmarth, who is ranked No. 12 in New England and No. 6 in Massachusetts in the 18-and-under girls category of USTA.com.
During the summers, she plays in USTA tournaments around the country. In the past year she has traveled to New York, Virginia, Florida and California for tournaments.
"I was really excited to go to California," said Wilmarth. "To be able to play against girls out there was great and the weather was amazing. It's exciting to see how much skill there is out there and how diverse it can be."
At Phillips, Wilmarth finished 12-2 this season and won the Danta Tennis Trophy for a girls tennis player that shows sportsmanship, leadership and character. She is a captain elect for next season and also plays on the varsity squash team.
Also a standout student, Wilmarth scored an outstanding 750 on the math portion of her SATs. Over the summer she is taking part in a medical forum in Boston to explore her interest in becoming a doctor. She also said she is interested in becoming a veterinarian.
While admittedly not on the level of her sister, Victoria Wilmarth also stood out for the Big Blue at doubles, and participates in some USTA tournaments.
"Tennis is really a family thing," she said. "My mom likes to play, so it's fun to do it as a family. We love watching tennis and make the U.S. Open every few years."
One of Victoria Wilmarth's passions has become community service. She is helping to arrange Non Sibi Day, which is a day in September when Phillips Academy students and graduates around the world take part in community service.
Last year, she made a trip with classmates to Mumbai, India, to study children's rights.
"It was a great experience," she said. "Working with local children from Mumbai and looking at child labor and heath systems."
Victoria Wilmarth, who scored very well on her ACTs, is looking into studying international relations and public policy in college.
Meeting the Wilmarths
Name: Lauren and Victoria Wilmarth
School: Phillips Academy
Class: Going into senior year
About Lauren: Won the deciding match to give Big Blue first-ever NEPSAC tourney title. Ranked No. 12 in New England and No. 6 in Massachusetts in USTA rankings. Scored 750 on math portion of SATs.
About Victoria: Plays doubles for Big Blue. Served as a coach for her sister during NEPSAC tourney. Helps arrange Phillips' Non Sibi Day and studied children's rights in Mumbai, India.