Whitman tennis hitting harder

by Rebecca Jensen

The women’s tennis team is smaller but stronger this spring. The team has lost six players due to graduation, transfer and quitting. However, with the addition of three strong first-years, the team is now deeper and more focused than ever. “It’s always hard to lose players,” said senior team member Emily Smith, though senior Maura Flaherty added that it is “nice to have a smaller team … there’s more playing time and we’re more focused. We’ve already bonded and work well together.” The women’s coach has even called her squad the best team she’s had while at Whitman.

The women’s team has already reaped telling success in their preseason. On Feb. 10, the women played three matches in Lewiston, Id.: more matches than are typically played in a day. Nevertheless, the women won the first two matches, losing to the strongest team in the last exhausting match of the day.

While their preseason results have been positive, the true marker of the team’s new strength may be the depth of the line-up. “Usually [freshmen] don’t play in the line-up right away … but now our number one player is a freshman and we’re building on players we already have,” said Smith.

The women have two home matches this coming weekend. They play George Fox at 4 p.m. on Friday and Lewis and Clark at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The men’s tennis team is also shooting higher this season. The team is hoping to break the top 10 at nationals this year and there are changes on the team that may help them reach their goal. To begin, the roster has been shaken up. The team lost only one senior and gained seven “solid freshman,” said senior player Robbie Munday. The atmosphere has also improved on the team. “We have a better team dynamic, we hang out off the court,” said senior Steven Ly.

Another new addition is assistant coach Brad Changstrim, who has had “a huge, extravagant impact [on the team] … he is an amazing individual with extreme knowledge of the court and intuition of matchplay,” according to Munday. Changstrim is a recent alum of the team who is helping to coach the team before going to medical school.

A change in the scoring system has also aided the men’s team. Before the regulation change, a team had to win two of three doubles matches to score one point. After the change, each doubles match win scores its own point. This has been a huge help to Whitman, as their doubles play has been a lot stronger this year.

Already in their season, the team is showing promise. Split into A and B squads, the B squad swept the fifth best team in the conference 9-0 which speaks to the depth of the team. Lifted by so many positive changes this year, the men are optimistic that they’ll break the top 10 at nationals.

The men’s team had two home matches on Feb. 17. They won both matches 9-0 against Willamette and Colorado College. This coming weekend they will play several matches in Oregon.