Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Tennis Love

Happy Mothers Day!

This is a recap post, but I'll start by thanking all the Mom's out there, especially of our WhitWomen's Tennis team and mostly my Mom for always being there for me - Mom, you're the best!

Well, our team season concluded yesterday with a hard fought round of 32 match with the Athena's of CMS.  Coming off an inspiring 5-4 win over UT Tyler in the first round of NCAA's, we carried our intensity and fight into yesterday's match with the #5 ranked team in the country.

After dropping one doubles quickly to an on fire CMS team, two and three doubles showcased our growth that we can play with anyone at any spot in the lineup.  Allie and Morgan have only played one match and a few practices together as Morgan spent the latter part of the season recovering from a groin pull.  They got down 6-2, but the fire was lit and it was unreal to see Morgan leading them and Allie showing off her MUCH improved doubles.  In the end they fell 7-9, but showed that our doubles future is so bright!  At two, our most consistent team of Erin and Katrina started with amazing energy to go up 3-0, then CMS fought back to 3-3 and the battle was on.  Trading games it was inspiring to see how our team embraced the moment to earn a huge hold at 6-6 and a break to win 8-6 and get us on the board.

Singles was intense from the start.  The Athenas are so good because they are solid up and down the lineup, but at 4 and 5 especially, they are wonderful experienced singles players and our newcomers Erin and Allie played like veterans fighting and staying focused on the moment, but each of them fell by deceiving straight set scores. So, down 4-1 with Maddy the only one up a set, I was again so impressed with our effort.  Many teams would go away, but we fought and scrapped with Jenna going up a break in the second set, Courtney showing her patented determination to will herself from being down a set and 4-5 to a 7-5 second set.  Morgan dropped an intense long first set and then was down 1-4.  Morgan, even still not 100% with her leg is one of the best fighters in the business and she came up with some shots and gets that were inspiring as she fought back to 4-4 in the second set.  Unfortunately it wasn't enough as her opponent stepped up to win 6-4 and clinch the match.

Overall, the tournament was such a great way to end a phenomenal season.  How much the team enjoyed the process of setting lofty goals and doing the work to get better every day was incredible.  We hold our heads high with much pride for what we've done and would have wanted more tennis as it would mean more time together.  So, there is a mix of finality with the end of Hannah, Maggie and Olivia's college tennis careers.  I'm so proud as they were a huge part our development from a competitive team in conference to a regular national contender.  Even more than that, they exemplify what it means to not only grow your tennis, but grow as teammates and people.  I'm so proud of them as they near graduation and very bright futures as intelligent, respectful, talented leaders.

This year has also seen the emergence of Chelsea Patton as a coach.  In her first year coaching, C Patt had an incredible impact on our team, adding intensity to everything while teaching the team not just how to get better on court, but how to give your whole heart, mind and body to something.  Congrats on an amazing season Coach Patton!

We also can never say enough what it means to have our incredible support system, so on Mother's day I am so happy to have had a terrific family and friend presence at the matches.  Thanks to the Wallin, Dobrin, Allick, Palkowitz, Bell and Webster families for cheering us on at NCAA's!  You're all so outstanding.

So concludes a terrific season and we look forward to summer adventures and an even bigger year next year as we return the bulk of our team and welcome a strong class of first year players.  BUT....

we're not done yet!  Courtney will be competing at NCAA individual nationals, right back at the CMS courts in Claremont CA Thursday through Saturday May 22-24th!

Happy Mothers Day!
Coach John

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Links to watch or follow scores at NCAA regionals

Tomorrow is match day, Friday at 10am PST versus UT Tyler.

You can watch live at:
http://www.firstteambroadcasting.com/events/2014/05/09/wten-ncaa-tournament-whitman-vs-texas-tyler/

You can follow live scoring at:
https://webapps.cmc.edu/livescore/

Go Missionaries!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Headed to Claremont

Hello friends,

If you haven't heard, our Whittie Women are headed south to Claremont, CA, where the CMS Athenas host the first three rounds (regionals) of the NCAA tournament.

We come in as the 4 seed in this 6 team regional and I'm super excited to play a really solid UT Tyler team.  They are #5 in the regional and sit just outside the ITA rankings (one of the top unranked teams in the country), so we're looking forward to a great match Friday at 10am on the lower courts at CMS.

The winner moves on to play top regional seed and #5 in the nation CMS.  We played CMS early on in Hawaii and while they were missing two key players, their top players played and we battled to a 3-6 loss with some close ones so we'd love the opportunity for a rematch.

On the other side of the bracket challenging for a spot in the elite 8 are LaVerne, Pomona-Pitzer and UC Santa Cruz.  It's the deepest regional in the country and we love the challenge ahead.

If you are coming to watch and haven't already been in touch, please let me know, we have such amazing fans and look forward to a great atmosphere on Friday!

Draws are at ncaa.com the link is
http://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/tennis-women/d3/2013

My best to all!
John

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Northwest Champs! On to the NCAA Tourney!

What a weekend!

We worked all year to stay undefeated in conference which gave us our second straight NWC championship and the right to host the 4 team tournament to decide who gets the automatic qualification for the NCAA tournament.

This year the theme has been to carry playoff intensity during each practice and match, so we talked about Saturday's match being nothing different.  In a way it was as we have battled injuries all year and have had the depth to handle it.  In the semi's Saturday versus UPS we hoped Morgan would be back and she is close but needed a bit more rehab.  At the same time, our #1 doubles team were both nursing minor leg injuries.  So, it was incredibly special to play it as we had all year, getting all three doubles points and then entering singles with Courtney and Maddy resting.  This gave an incredible opportunity for everyone to step up, including Olivia, who has played incredible singles this year and saw her first post season action at #6.  She was up a set playing well after some early nerves, but the match was finished and stopped when Erin at #2 and Katrina at #4 won in straight sets.

Sunday morning I didn't know if Saturday nights rain would go away and keep us on our beautiful new outdoor courts.  Luckily it cleared for our match with Linfield.  The wildcats have been playing great late season and gave us our closest match of the season early on in a 5-4 win for us that came down to the last match.  Early on things looked good in windy conditions with all three doubles teams leading.  As we got wins at 1 and 2, #3 got super close and between the wind and the nerves between all four players neither team gained any separation.  This is where Hannah's senior leadership came through as she made some spectacular plays to get us to the breaker.  As the tie break started, the difference between a 3-0 Whitman lead and 2-1 felt huge to both teams.  We got down early as Linfield played great, then at 3-4, Jenna hit two huge serves and we had the momentum and lead that carried us to the final doubles point and a 3-0 lead.

Going into singles, we were excited to go after each point and won the first set at all 6 spots.  It was great to see Courtney and Maddy each battle to 7-5 wins against tough opponents who got tougher in the wind.  Early on, Erin and Allie seemed to be in charge of their matches, but after struggling to break serve at #6, once Katrina did, she relaxed and got us our next point with a 6-3,6-0 win.  Allie at #4 had just flipped the scorecard to 5-0 in the second and I think she felt that the match was on her racket as she exploded in the final game, crushing balls to the corners to clinch our third straight tournament title and trip to the NCAA's!

I'm so proud of our team's improvement throughout the year.  The way they compete together, support each other and play with great intensity while showing the utmost respect and sportsmanship is amazing.  All this comes from the incredible bonds they have created and the love on this team is really flowing as we prepare for regionals.

The NCAA regional rounds (Round of 64,32, and 16) will be announced (location, date/time and opponents) on Monday.  We'll be ready to travel and take on whomever we get the opportunity to play.

Thanks so much to the families (yeah Joel, Sandy, Mark!), friends (too many to name) and alums (go Dena, Emily, Christy!) who cheered us on.  Our home courts are truly as special as Whitman itself with the center of campus being not only the most beautiful place to watch a match, but it is also so active there and the support of our fans gave the place an incredible playoff atmosphere.

I'll write again when we find out where we're headed!

Coach John