Women’s tennis hosting the ITA Pacific Northwest Championships

Libby Arnosti

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On Saturday, Sept. 26, the first and only fall women’s tennis tournament will take place at the outdoor tennis courts on Ankeny Field at Whitman College. The ITA Pacific Northwest Championships are held in a different location each year, and this year the Whitman women are excited to host it.

All of the teams from the Pacific Northwest Conference will be attending, offering the women an opportunity to assess their rank in the conference. Head coach John Hein points out that though all players are expected to “give their full effort like they have in practice,” his expectations “differ from player to player” depending on experience and training. But this tournament has something to offer for every player.

Feeling more confident after a year in the college tennis arena, sophomore Kate Kunkel-Patterson said that she has “more definite goals this year, as opposed to last year,” when it was her first collegiate tournament.

“This year I’m just excited. I’m ready in terms of fitness, and now I have the experience,” said Alyssa Roberg, a sophomore and last season’s top singles player.

A first college tournament can be nerve-racking, too. Leah Siegel, one of three freshmen on the team, said she is “excited, but slightly nervous. I don’t know the standard of college-level tennis.”

To prepare for the tournament, the team of 11 women has been training every day both on and off the courts. Their workouts include running, swimming and doing cardio work, accompanied by playing mock matches to pair up doubles partners and determine the rank of each player on the team.

Practice times are more varied in the fall as the women work around their academic schedules, but in the spring they are more strictly enforced as spring is their main season.

Hein, coaching his third year at Whitman, said he is thrilled to host the tournament. He is particularly excited to see top doubles team of Roberg and lone senior Elise Otto build on their successes of last season, when they were the first alternate team for nationals.

Last year, Whitman, Whitworth and Linfield were the top three teams competing in the tournament. The women are looking forward to taking on their rivals again this year.

“It’s a real bonding experience,” said Kunkel-Patterson of the tournament.

“[The tournament] is one of the most fun weekends of the whole year” added Roberg.

The ITA Pacific Northwest Championships is a tournament in which first-years can get a taste of college tennis, older players can challenge themselves against rivals and everyone can get excited for another year of tennis.

“Lots of energy, lots of excitement, and lots of fun,” asserted Roberg, are in-store for participants and spectators alike.

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