Women’s tennis team starts season with two home wins

Alice MacLean

The women’s tennis team this season serves up energy with each ball. The young but talented squad started out a season with great potential by beating George Fox and Pacific at home in their first conference games. Though they lost to Willamette the same weekend, junior captains Katie Oost and Alex Robinson were very positive about the start.

“It was a good start,” said Robinson. “It’s very exciting.”

Excitement is the word of the year for this squad. With a small roster of seven, four of whom are underclassmen and none are seniors, every win is an indication of strength not only for this year, but the future as well.

“It’s a small roster, but it’s a strong seven. Everyone’s excited to play a lot and work hard,” said Robinson.

This youth is especially reflected in first-year Elise Otto, currently playing number one for Whitman. Out of Spokane, Wash., Otto is ranked number 20 in the West Region of NCAA Division III.

“Elise has been playing number one and it’s great. It’s exciting to see fresh, young excitement out of her,” said Oost.

The Missionaries have a second important addition to team their new coach, Whitman alumna Hannah Swee. Though the adjustment to a new coach can be a challenge, Robinson is positive about the transition because Swee is already familiar to them.

“Hannah was our assistant coach last year and she was on the tennis team when she was a student at Whitman, which is a huge advantage because she really knows what it means to be a student athlete. We have a great relationship with her,”   said Robinson.

Even the conference is exciting this year. Citing significant turnover in the top few teams, both captains expressed expectations for an open conference race.

“There’s an opportunity for a whole new top three,” said Oost. “Of course, our goal is always to win conference. There are a few strong teams we weren’t expecting this year, but I’m confident we can beat ’em.”

“There was lots of turnover in conference this year. It’s very exciting. It’s like there’s a clean slate, anything can happen. Anyone has an opportunity to be at the top,” said Robinson.

Looking to fill one of those top spots, Oost spoke highly of the quality of the rest of the roster, which is deep despite playing with only seven.

“There’s not as big of a difference between number one and number six. We’re a lot deeper than some other teams.”
Playing with only seven does, however, present some potential challenges if players get injured. With only one person on the bench, everyone needs to stay healthy in order to stay competitive.

“Because we have a small roster, we are really aware of injuries. We all need to keep healthy and ready to play,” said Oost.
The team is going to carry their energy into the rest of conference play and, hopefully, to playoffs. They have a set of home matches against Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran on March 1 and 2.