Day in the Life: Women’s tennis senior envisions self ninja

Nick Wood

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By Elise Otto

Every few weeks, The Pioneer’s Sports Section takes a look behind locker rooms left slightly ajar. This week, a senior tennis player battles volleys, ladybugs and mineralogy homework.

Day 1

6:00 a.m.: Alarm set for morning practice goes off. Morning practice ended two weeks ago, but the only time I remember to change the alarm is at this ungodly hour. I am lucid enough to observe a red black-dotted insect on the tip of my nose. I make a note to do something about my room’s ladybug infestation and to change alarm. I fall back asleep.

8:40 a.m.: Wake up again, roll out of bed, pick several ladybugs off my pillow and head for geophysics. I stop outside to release the bugs. Still can’t bring myself to kill them.

11:50 a.m.: Exit science building after tenuous battle with mineralogy homework. Grab lunch (bread, carrots, peanut butter), tennis clothes, rackets and shoes, and head for Bratton to hit with Jedi coach.

12:05 p.m.: I realize I’ve misplaced cell phone and swipe card. Stand outside Bratton in the rain banging furiously on the door until Jedi coach opens it for me. We work on a slice-volley sequence for an hour before we have to vacate the courts for a class.

6:35 p.m.: Three first-years have still not arrived for 6:30 p.m. practice. Make note to arrange friendly big-sister chats about being on time.

6:45 p.m.: Last first-year arrives. Jedi Coach reads extract from Bay Area Sports Psychologist’s new book, “The Way of the Champion: Lessons From Sun-Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ and Other Tao Wisdom For Sports and Life” to prepare us for this weekend’s matches. “Envision yourself,” he tells us. I envision myself in full ninja garb.

8:30 p.m.: Finish up practice. Head for the library to churn out thesis figures.

10:15 p.m.: Skulk home with intentions of bed, only to find several housemates passionately singing Gillian Welch songs about dying, fiddle and guitars in hand. I run upstairs for my C key harmonica and harmonize.

12:13 a.m.: Fall asleep without bothering to clean out ladybugs.

Day 2

6:30 a.m.: Same as Day 1. I curse my passivity as I pick a ladybug out of my ear.

10:18 a.m.: Wake up for real from surreal dream about playing senior league tennis with my ex-lover’s father. My post-college tennis career looks glum. Head downstairs to find steel cut oats waiting for me on the stove. I text the tennis team’s badass Montanan. “Wanna dress like ninjas for practice?” She texts back “hell yeah.”

10:45 a.m.-2:09 p.m.: Intermittently attend class, work on homework and hold “serious” discussions about timeliness with tennis first-years.

2:10 p.m.: I rush home from the science building brainstorming ninja masks as I go.

2:11 p.m.: I throw on a purple unitard and begin cutting ninja masks. Three T-shirts in, I’ve made two reasonably good masks.

2:31 p.m.: Grab rackets, backpack, etc. and head for Bratton at a fast jog, regretting the heartfelt discussions of timeliness I had earlier this afternoon.

2:34 p.m.: Blinded by my ninja mask, I trip over a root in front of Cordiner and face plant in full ninja garb. I feel a sharp throbbing pain in my ankle.

2:35 p.m.: I call Jedi Coach to tell him I rolled my ankle and am going to be a few minutes late. “Why don’t you just go straight to the trainers?” he asks, but I assure him I’ll be there in a few. Ninja must practice.

2:37 p.m.: Limping up to Bratton. Badass Montanan is waiting outside. We don our masks, run (hop) onto the courts and begin to battle. The team is mildly amused at our antics. I avoid eye contact with all first-years.

3:00 p.m.: After hitting for 20 minutes I head over to the trainers to get my ankle examined. The trainer looks skeptically at my purple unitard and suggests ice. I limp home to pick up my backpack and then head for the science building.

Recap: Two false alarms, one rolled ankle, zero murdered ladybugs

Elise Otto ’11 returns a volley during the Whitman Women’s Tennis team’s last Doubles home match of the season in the Bratton Tennis Center. Photo Credit: Faith Bernstein

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