Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Women’s Tennis Seeks Winning Mentality

Photo by Tanner Bowersox

Not only did the women’s tennis team win a Northwest Conference title last spring, they also went to the NCAA national tournament, proving they were a force to be reckoned with. This season the goal is no different for the team, as they look not just to make nationals again, but to make the Elite Eight portion of the tournament.

With a large emphasis on practice mentality and an improvement on the overall depth of the lineup, the team is optimistic about their upcoming season.

“We’ve stressed that to get better, it needs to come from everyone, and it has truly been a team effort to improve,” said Head Coach John Hein.

Though tennis is in large part an individual sport, the mentality of the team couldn’t be more cohesive and team-oriented, and this has garnered improvement already.

“The past two years when we played nationally-ranked teams, there were spots that we almost had to win because we were so good at the top of the lineup and just weren’t as deep as the top teams.  Now, any day against any opponent we know we can go out and win at any of the nine spots,” said Hein.

Practice mentality has been a large focus so far, and after every practice the players try to remind themselves and their teammates what they are ultimately practicing for.

“After every practice we’ll assess, ‘Did we have that Elite Eight Championship mentality today?’ That’s something we’re trying to bring to every practice so that when we get to the competition, it’s natural,” said sophomore Jenna Dobrin.

Part of that overall team improvement has been an effort to improve the well-roundedness of each player, something junior Maddy Webster has been focusing on so far.

“I want to keep a balanced season, with fitness, tennis and academics. It’s really cool because this season we’re doing a lot of balance within tennis. We’re going to have tennis and yoga and weights, and so there’s a focus on the mental game as well as the physical,” said Webster.

Photo by Tanner Bowersox

Off the court, the team is already very close, since they travel together and are students here at Whitman together. But their trip to Hawaii over winter break was something that brought the team even closer than they were before and also gave them an opportunity to compete against top-tier opponents early on.

“It was a great way to come into season, having team bonding and being really relaxed while also playing tennis the whole time. We would practice a few hours a day and play matches as well, but we also had a lot of time to relax and have fun together,” said Webster.

Having the opportunity to actually play against great competition was also an important part of the trip.

“It was a really different way to start the season. We went right into competing against some really talented teams, but I think we really stepped it up and delivered, and I think it set a good tone for our team coming into this season,” said Dobrin.

The trip was a good way to relax a bit with the team before what could prove to be a very competitive season, given the team’s success last year. Though there is pressure from being the conference champions last season, the team is looking forward to that added attention.

“I’m not sure if there is more or less, but there is pressure, and we enjoy it … it makes what we do so much fun,” said Hein.

Dobrin shares her coach’s thoughts on the subject.

“I think we definitely have that target on our back. But I think that’s good for us; we want to be able to step up and perform and show that we’re even better. So I think it’s definitely motivation for us,” said Dobrin.

The champion mentality that is the focus this year was put to the test early with a home match against University of La Verne, a school ranked 28th nationally. It ended in a narrow 5-4 loss.  

 

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