Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Courting Success: Whitman College Hosts ITA Fall Northwest Regional Championship

Last weekend, spectators’ anticipation filled the air around the tennis courts as the Whitman community gathered to support the men’s tennis team. Fans waited with bated breath as the high-level matches played out, watching players compete from Sept. 22-24. With Whitman hosting the regional championship, it was the perfect opportunity for friends and family to get a look into the world of tennis at Whitman.

Head Men’s Tennis Coach and Senior Lecturer of Sports Studies Jeff Northam explained that the uplifting support of spectators is something that alters the entire atmosphere of the game.

“It’s always fun to play at home. Parents were here watching, friends were dropping by and cheering, it definitely makes for a home court advantage … it makes for a very fun environment,”  Northam said.

The turnaround between the start of classes and the regional championship was quick, with players only getting about three weeks of formal practice in before competing. Despite this challenge, the Blues still enjoyed numerous successes in the tournament, with three players reaching semifinals and Whitman coming out on top in the B draw.

For junior semifinalist Cameron Yang, part of this success is due to players’ individual motivation that keeps them focused on tennis even outside of scheduled team practices.

“It’s not required of us, but everyone on the team is motivated to do our best and keep each other accountable,” Yang said. “Even when we don’t have official practices or matches, we’re still gonna go out and do our thing.”

First-year winner of the B draw Hanri Luo explained that part of the ability to play tennis with teammates in a more informal environment comes from the sense of camaraderie that he experiences on the tennis team.

“The team is really tight here, everyone’s got each other’s backs. That’s what makes the Whitman tennis team so great, everyone knows each other and is great friends with each other,” Luo said.

This unique team dynamic contributed towards the team’s positive attitude this weekend, extending to their opinions on the structure of the tournament. At the championship, instead of students’ matches counting towards a team score, the success and bracketing is purely individual. This meant that it was not uncommon for Whitman students to compete against their teammates in critical matches.

When Cameron Yang played against his teammate Luca Viarengo, he saw it as a reflection of the hard work each of them had individually put in over the season.

“When I played my teammate Luca, [it] was a really good moment because it was really competitive and we both wanted to win so bad,” Yang said. “At the same time it was super respectful and I know that he’s been putting in the work and it’s good to see it pay off.”

Luo agreed, reminiscing upon his match against teammate William Lanstra.

“Playing teammates sometimes sucks but my mind says, ‘If I lose, it doesn’t matter because my teammate is going through and I’ll be happy for him,’” Luo said.

For Northam, this mutual respect comes from the work the players put in off the court.

“Opportunities where the guys get to know themselves when they’re not competing against each other … it’s a long process and it’s something they’re working toward for their whole career while they’re here,” Northam said.

Now that the fall championship is over, the fall tennis season is winding down until the main season starts in February. However, both Northam and players were enthusiastic about getting back to work.

“A lot of us are really motivated to not get too rusty and keep that momentum going from the tournament,” Luo said.

Now, the team has their sights set on the NCAA Championship in spring, hoping to bring home the title for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and establish a new era of competitive success for the team.

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