Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Dream season for women’s tennis

Charlotte Scott, '12, and the rest of the Whitman women wrap up their regular season against the top two teams in the Northwest conference. Whitman takes on second place Linfield on Friday and first place Whitworth on Sunday. Credit: Jacobson.
Charlotte Scott, '12, and the rest of the Whitman women wrap up their regular season against the top two teams in the Northwest conference. Whitman takes on second place Linfield on Friday and first place Whitworth on Sunday. Credit: Jacobson.

“Hadley, say something about how all your wildest dreams came true,” said sophomore Elise Otto, looking over at her teammate.

Junior Hadley DeBree just smiled.   “It’s true,” she said.

With a 12-2 Northwest Conference record, a strong and healthy team and a good chance to exact revenge on their only two conference losses this weekend, the women’s tennis team has a lot to be excited about.

In addition to team success, DeBree’s wildest dreams this season came in the form of the bronzed, 6’1″ Spaniard with biceps the size of cocker spaniels and a wild mane of perpetually-flowing black hair: Rafael Nadal.

Squeezed in between their various California matches during the first week of spring break, the lady Missionaries made the trek over to Indian Wells, California for a day of watching the number one men’s player, Nadal, and most every other top tennis player at the biggest event in tennis after the four grand slams.

“There were so many sexy tennis players,” said first-year Zoe Kunkel-Patterson.

The rest of the team rolled their eyes at this comment, but they weren’t disagreeing. The trip to Indian Wells, though, was about much more than ogling the biggest names in tennis.

Just as the team has worked hard for their 12-2 record and maybe even a shot at a shared NWC title, they worked hard to make it to Indian Wells.   Coming back over a week early from winter break, they taught a tennis clinic for kids to earn the money for the tickets to the tournament and lodging.   The rest of the money was donated by former tennis coach Jayne McCarthy.

“Being able to go to Indian Wells definitely gave an air of excitement around playing tennis,” said senior Jacquie Frank. This excitement was much appreciated after a whirlwind eight matches at various NWC schools and Chapman, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and UC Santa Cruz over spring break.

Also, for a team largely isolated from the tennis world in Walla Walla, it was invigorating to know that they were part of something bigger.

“[Going to Indian Wells] was just a really unique experience and gave me a bigger perspective on tennis as a whole,” said Otto.

For the Whitman women, watching and cheering for the stars that they otherwise only see holding up trophies on TV and endorsing rackets on the pages of magazines, helped make tennis real and exciting again.

And what could be more real or exciting than snagging Nadal’s practice ball, watching Fernando Verdasco hit a series of showy shots between his legs after a troupe of college girls showed up to watch him warm up, seeing Dinara Safina jog by on her warm up (“She’s huge!” said Otto), grabbing Andy Murray’s autograph on an oversized tennis ball, standing only feet away from Roger Federer as he hit or even getting a wave from Nadal as he drove by in a golf cart?

And so, with a little help from the raven-locked, fist-pumping Spaniard and the other greats of tennis, the team is back and energized, just in time for the two biggest matches of the season.

The Whitman women take on Linfield (12-1 NWC), who they narrowly lost 5-4 to earlier in the season starting on Friday at 11 a.m.   Then, 2 p.m. on Sunday, they take on top ranked Whitworth (14-0NWC) for their last home match of the year.   While they lost 8-1 to Whitworth in their last matchup, the healthy and rejuvenated team is raring for a second go at the Pirates.

“These matches came at the best time in the season that they could have,” said Frank.

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