Game of the week: women’s tennis v. Linfield

Rachel Hoar

Linfield carries a 102-match conference winning streak into their game against Whitman this weekend.

Linfield has won the past seven conference championships, and is one of the two undefeated teams this season in the Northwest Conference, the other is Whitworth.

“I think it’s going to be one of the toughest matches of our season,” said first-year tennis player Charlotte Scott.

Competing at a variety of singles and doubles seeds, Divneet Kaur, '10, will be a key contributor behind singles No. 1 Elise Otto, 11. Credit: Jacobson
Competing at a variety of singles and doubles seeds, Divneet Kaur, '10, will be a key contributor behind singles No. 1 Elise Otto, 11. Credit: Jacobson

In the past Whitman has been a strong competitor in the conference, but has fallen short of beating Linfield.

“For the team, there’s this big mental block…teams in the past have had this idea that Linfield is going to win,” said new women’s tennis coach John Hein.

New coaching has added a new element to the season as Hein has fit in well and helped develop the team.

“John’s a great guy, and also a really phenomenal motivator,” said sophomore tennis player Elise Otto.

Hein has implemented a new training regimen, which includes motivation sessions, increased on-court fitness training, and weight lifting. It has produced notable improvements in the team’s playing.

“Our first weekend of matches I had one of my toughest matches of the season and I really felt faster, I felt a lot stronger throughout the match,” said Otto.

Another difference this year is the team’s depth. The women’s tennis team did not graduate any seniors, and has gained three first-years, among other players. The talent is widespread throughout the team.

“We’ve probably got the most experienced team up and down the lineup in the conference,” said Hein. “A lot of the other teams, their talent is in the freshmen and sophomores.”

Linfield is one of these teams, having lost a few talented seniors this year.

“They [Linfield] are strong at the top, but we’re really deep,” said Otto. “[The match] really could go either way.”
The team’s preparation this year and their new training regimen should help the Whitman women to overcome what they perceived as poor sportsmanship from Linfield players in matches last season.

“Last year I could not have been more disappointed in Linfield’s sportsmanship and team dynamics,” said Otto. “They’re a really hard team to play emotionally as well as tennis-wise.”

Whitman is still developing early in the season, and is working hard to improve.

“We’re still trying to figure out our lineup,” said Hein. “From last year, we [also] need to be more confident and play better doubles.”

“There’s a lot riding on it, but also it’s not the end of the world [if we lose],” said Otto.

Whitman will have a chance to play Linfield again at the end of the season when the Wildcats travel to Whitman on Friday, April 3. While this match is important, the women are focusing on peaking at the end of the season, going into the conference championships. Conference matches place teams in the championships, but it’s their playing within the championship matches that place them in nationals.