Women’s tennis kicks off fall season

Jenna+Dobrin+at+practice+on+Tuesday%2C+September+29%2C+2015

Keifer Nace

Jenna Dobrin at practice on Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Grant Laco, Sport's Writer

The Women’s Tennis team played in its first tournament of the year, the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships, between Sept. 18 and 20. The tournament, held at Willamette College, consisted of eight conference teams. The USTA/ITA Northwest Regional tournament is the only fall conference for the women’s team and the formal season isn’t until spring. While the results had no affect on the team’s ranking, they could impact individual player rankings in the region.

Whitman was successful at the tournament despite graduating some important team members from last year’s team. In singles, Jana Klages-Miller ’19, Cello Lockwood ’19, Mary Hill ’19 competed in the quarterfinals, and senior Jenna Dobrin made it to the semifinals. In doubles, three teams made it to the quarterfinals but Lockwood and Dobrin were the only players to advance to the semifinals. First-year Lori Sheng also won the Championship Consolation Bracket, meaning that although she wasn’t able to win her first match, she won every other match she played—an incredible feat, especially since it was her first collegiate tournament ever.

Sophomore Lindsey Brodeck reached final round of the consolation-2 bracket, consisting of those who fell out of the main draw in the second round of play. She lost in round two to the number one seed in the tournament, then proceeded to win four matches in a row. She lost a nail-biter in the finals.

“I felt really good with my performance,” said Brodeck. “I constructed points well and played the patterns I wanted to play. I had a high first serve and return percentage, and I was aggressive at net in doubles. My mantra is to be patiently aggressive and I felt I accomplished that.”

Senior Jenna Dobrin fought hard to make it all the way to the semifinal round in the main draw. On Saturday, she played four matches: two doubles, and two singles. According to the Fitbit (a fitness tracking device) Dobrin wears on her wrist, she had taken 45,000 steps and covered 20 miles of court in eight hours of play.

Jenna Dobrin at practice on Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Jenna Dobrin at practice on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015

To the team, the tournament meant much more than performing well. It is a young team, and this was their first opportunity to compete together and get a feel for the season to come. Head Women’s Tennis Coach John Hein is very excited about the way the team performed.

“This was a physical tournament,” said Hein. “We showed a ton of depth. [The team] showed that they can graduate some of the best players they’ve ever had and still be at the top of their game … The depth and the talent is really exciting, and there’s nowhere to go but up.”

Not only is the fall tournament a great preview for the rest of the season, but it is also a good way for the team to come together.

“It’s great bonding, and we get to see one another in a more competitive environment. We get to see how everyone fights,” said Dobrin.

Looking forward, the players are focused on channeling the energy they felt coming out of such a difficult tournament into something great.

“The team vibe was positive, but we always want to accomplish more… We take the off-season very seriously and are ready to put in the work needed to stay the top team in the conference. Our coach always tells us to feel proud after our matches, because we fought our hardest, but to not be satisfied because we can always do more to improve. I am so unbelievably proud of how hard we fought last weekend,” said Brodeck.

The team’s positivity and cooperative mindset is evident in the way the players talk about their successes. For Dobrin, the highlight of the tournament wasn’t necessarily the outcome.

“To have my team there the whole time, I’d say that was the highlight, and I couldn’t have gotten through all those hours without them sitting by my side. Everyone is there for one another, on and off the court,” she said.

The start of the Whitman Women’s Tennis team’s season is still a little distant, but if this tournament is any indication of how it will turn out, it will be a great spring.