Women’s Tennis Serves a Great Tournament


Photo by Tywen Kelly

Conor Scanlon, Sport's Reporter

Last weekend, the Whitman women’s tennis team played host to the 2016 Women’s Northwest Regional Tennis Tournament. This annual fall tournament is organized by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and featured over 64 athletes from eight different Washington and Oregon NCAA Division III schools.

Hosting the ITA Northwest Regional offered a great chance for many of the women’s players to showcase their talents to a broad audience. The ITA tournament also gave the women’s players an opportunity to bond with one another as well as identify their strengths and weaknesses for the upcoming spring season.

Unlike typical spring matches that pit Whitman’s team directly against only one other school, the ITA tournament is based completely off of individual players’ performances and includes other programs from the Northwest Conference. Furthermore, seeding in the ITA tournament has an aspect of randomness not seen during the regular season. These factors create a unique challenge for players.

Doubles duo Mary Hill (L) and Hanna Greenberg (R) in the championship match of ITA Women's Fall Northwest Regional. Photo by Tywen Kelly
Doubles duo Mary Hill (top) and Hanna Greenberg (bottom) in the championship match of ITA Women’s Fall Northwest Regional. Photo by Tywen Kelly

Junior Lindsey Brodeck believes that the biggest challenge presented by this tournament is the unpredictability of opponents. According to Brodeck, the tournament format results in games that are “80 percent mental.”

“The first round you might play someone who hits really hard but is extremely inconsistent. The next round you can be playing someone that pushes the ball really consistently the entire match,” Brodeck said.

This inconsistency can be difficult to handle, but also helps the players in the long run.
“It’s a constant battle between weighing risks and benefits. You always need to trust yourself to change your strategy and be able to fight back,” Brodeck said.

The Whitman women’s team’s success in the tournament can be attributed to their rigorous fall training regimen. The team is currently in the midst of their five-week fall season in which they have two-hour practices six days a week. Due to this heavy intensity, the team takes the fall season extremely seriously and respect the time they have during practice. Furthermore, the team has held several intra-squad practice matches to simulate the intensity of real competition.

After the fall season ends, the team will hold captain’s practices until spring semester when the regular season begins. Unlike other sports teams on Whitman’s campus, the women’s tennis team does not have individual captains. Instead, according to Brodeck, “We’re all captains.”

“We take turns leading practice,” Brodeck said. “We get to work on what we feel like is best…stuff that we think everyone can improve on.” This style of captain’s practices encourages both a sense of individual responsibility and camaraderie within the team.

Despite being an individual competition, the ITA tournament offered a great opportunity for members of the women’s tennis team to grow closer together.

The tournament “increases the team morale because we learn to support each other as individuals,” first year player Andrea Gu said. “We are all there for each other as we compete.”

Senior Allie Wallin echoed Gu’s sentiments.

“The fall tournament has always been a crucial bonding time for our team, whether we’re hosting or not, our team always figures out our personality and the team really becomes close after this tournament,” she said. Wallin believes this unity carries into the next season and that the team benefits from the unity in the spring.

Additionally, the tournament is an excellent opportunity for players to identify any areas of their game they might need to improve before upcoming conference play in the spring.

The tournament “really helps me improve on specific tactics of my own game before competing as a team,” Gu said.

Whitman’s players had a great tournament run in both the singles and doubles brackets. Five Whitman players reached the singles round of sixteen. Sophomore Mary Hill and junior Hanna Greenberg reached the final of the doubles tournament before falling to top seeded Linfield College in a gritty three set game on Sunday afternoon.

Linfield. Photo by Tywen Kelly
Linfield College player Elsa Harris during the championship doubles match. Photo by Tywen Kelly

“We’ve been working on our individual and collective games this Fall in hopes to showcase it at this tournament and in the upcoming season,” Greenberg said of her tournament success.
If the team’s performance in the tournament is indicative of their success in the spring, Whitman tennis fans are in for a treat.

“Overall, we really appreciate the support from the Whitman community and hope to see fans out at matches in the Spring,” Greenberg added.