Whitman Tennis: Triumph in the ITA Tournament

Wil Kotnik, Staff Reporter

Carson Jones
Sophomore Andrea Gu and Senior Hanna Greenberg prepare for Nationals.

Last weekend, Whitman hosted the Intercollegiate Tennis Association tournament, that is also known as the Oracle. As the first major event of the fall season, the ITA Oracle includes players from all the teams in the Pacific Northwest conference, with eight contestants from each school. This tournament, however, focuses more on individual rather than team competition.

Included in those schools are Whitman’s two biggest rivals in the tennis realm: Linfield and Lewis & Clark. Linfield had an especially strong showing, with two of their players pitted against one another in the singles finals in addition to getting second place in doubles.

Who then, occupied the first-place podium for doubles?

Home-field enthusiasm evidently favored Whitman. In a battle full of obstacles both physical and environmental, senior Hanna Greenberg and junior Andrea Gu attained victory in the doubles championship, defeating their Linfield opponents across the court.

Photo by Carson Jones

Not only was this exciting win achieved while Gu was recovering from a week-long illness, but there was a suspense-ridden delay halfway through the riveting two hour match when the rain became too much of an impediment to continue. Ultimately they had to move the match to the indoors courts, whereupon they continued on to victory in the third set after tipping the match with a stunning tie breaker.

“It was a pretty surreal finish to a busy fall season, and it felt awesome to have all that time and effort pay off,” Greenberg said.

The thrilling success of Greenberg and Gu is a wave the tennis team is expecting to ride for a while.

“This tournament was definitely a big moment for our team and was an important display to the rest of the conference,” Greenberg added. “I think we can take our successes from this tournament and let it fuel us for the rest of the fall and winter, and into the spring.”

Both Greenberg and Gu are All-American players destined to travel to Rome, Georgia, during the week of the ninth. The ITA Oracle small-college nationals will consist of other regional winners in DII and DIII schools, as well as community colleges.

Despite the fact that the ITA Oracle is more of an individual event, the ‘team’ still had a role to play. As always, team compatibility is an important dynamic, but even more so for the newer first-years. Their comfort level on the team can make all the difference in a competitive environment, and it appears that this time it did.

Photo by Carson Jones

“The tournament was a lot more fun than anything I have competed in before because there was a lot of team spirit and support from my fellow teammates in every match,” first-year Kattie Pak noted. “We [the first-years] immediately felt welcomed into the team, and now I tell everyone they are my second family and that is exactly what it feels like,” she said.

However much an impact the returning players made on the first-years, it was actually reciprocated in the other direction too. Sophomore Lorin DeMuth thinks that the first-years, Kattie and Nastya, are an extremely valuable addition to the team.

“The first-years have brought a lot of positive energy and hard work to the environment,” Demuth explained. “That energy is an important complement to the commitment and dedication that the team already has.”

With such a successful tournament right off the bat, the women’s tennis team is entering the season brimming with confidence and enthusiasm. This talented and tight-knit team may prove to be a formidable presence in the PNW conference as the season progresses.