Saturday, March 21, 2015

Gratitude, Guts and Great Tennis

I'm not sure I can convey in one post just how special our spring break trip was.  We ended up 1-3 on the trip versus some tough top 30 ranked teams, you can check the WC Website here for results because if I go through each match then this post would be lengthy indeed.  I will mention that while you'll see the incredible matches played by Courtney, Morgan, Erin, Katrina, Hanna and Maddy in doubles and Courtney, Jenna D, Morgan, Allie, Erin, Lindsey and Alex in singles I'd like to highlight that in 3 of the four matches we played at least 4 doubles and 9 singles so all 12 of our amazing players got to compete against some of the best competition in DIII.  I'm so proud of Seana and Jenna G who both got great match play to improve but also notched some wins in singles and doubles.

These trips are such an integral part of our season and you alums will know just how much they enhance the quality of experience we have.  We're so grateful for all the support we have from Whitman but also from donors and fundraisers (yes, Tennis and Campers, your good times go to a GREAT cause!).  Without your help we wouldn't be able to take all 12 players.  It is rare for teams to travel with their entire roster, but for us it is so important to build unity and have this experience of top tennis and time together to bond for everyone.  

It was amazing to feel the dynamic on this team which was already so incredible get even stronger.  This week also brought an overwhelming amount of love and support of families who hosted us, hung out and cheered us on, thanks Marilyn, all of Team D, Bob and Annie, Anne, Ken B, all the Gilbert's, and the Wallin's.  There is also not much better than alums at matches, way to get down from your job in the bay area Hannah Pals!  It's easy to see where our players get their wonderful attitudes from and having you here is something they talked about after the last match as being such a special way to recognize what we do.  I can't say enough how grateful we are for everyone out there supporting us, following tweets, texting in and being there for the team.

Speaking of the team, not only am I fortunate to coach wonderful people, but the level of tennis this week was outstanding.  While we are always striving to improve, each day we left everything on the court.  It might not have showed in the Bowdoin scores, which I'll attribute partly to us just not executing as well as we're capable of, but they showed why they belong in the top 10 as they did little things super well and great consistency.  It was the right match to start our trip as it honed our focus and helped us practice hard on Tuesday (special shout out to Lori, Bday boy Joel and Spanish Hills Club in Camarillo!) and come out Wednesday to get a huge win at La Verne.  The Leo's are a solid team who came up with the goods against us last year and it was a big boost for us as a program to come back from 1-2 in doubles and also to showcase the depth we know we have winning at #3-6 plus at #7,8,9 and #4 doubles.  This was the second top 20 win we've had in my time here and it was a well deserved win.  The next day we had an interesting matchup with Vassar, who also beat La Verne 5-4.  Predictably it was close and with three matches on we were down 2-4, but Erin was up a set and a break and Allie and Jenna had each just split to gain momentum.  Hat's off to Vassar for responding with two third set wins to take the match.  This was our first ever meeting (to my knowledge) between the two teams and I saw a lot of similarities.  Like us, they were intense and tough, but they also had terrific sportsmanship and really nice people on the team, which is something we strive for.

Our last match was another West region showdown at Redlands.  This was the Gilbert family dream as Jenna's sister Alyssa plays for Redlands so I'm glad they got to all be there for the match.  The bulldogs are a seasoned team and they brought it from start to finish as both teams battled hard.  I put guts in the title of this post because our team has so much fight and this match was one where we could have went away, but we battled as usual until the last ball.  That last ball came in Jenna's super tie break at #2.  A week ago Jenna was down and out with a nasty virus, but she bounced back and played three 3 setters in three days - what a testament to her skill and conditioning which is a reflection of everyone on the team.

So, back to gratitude, I have to thank each member of the team for an amazing, fun and memorable spring break.  I'm amazed by how far we've come competing as a unit, and as always, the off court times were full of fun and laughter.  And, as good as the tennis was, we learned a lot and are motivated to get back together and keep improving for the second half of our conference season.

Thanks for reading, and after we enjoy a week off, we'll be back at it with a conference road trip the first weekend in April at Linfield and Lewis and Clark in showdowns of the three nationally ranked teams in our conference!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Break Part 1

Hello Whitman Tennis Fans!

I'm so excited to write you from gorgeous Camarillo, CA.  After finishing an undefeated first half of our conference season, the team flew down to Southern California Sunday for a series of matches with nationally ranked DIII teams.

Perhaps our toughest test came yesterday in our first match as we squared off with #6 ranked Bowdoin.  The Polar Bears are well deserving of their top 10 ranking and after some really fun competitive doubles highlighted by Maddy and Hanna pushing it to 7-9 at the three spot.  For everyone it was great tennis and while it didn't show up on the scoreboard, we showed some great strength, shotmaking and perseverance.  It was a terrific match to start our trip and push us to play better and better as the week goes on.

Today is our off day from matches, but we're up in Camarillo enjoying amazing hospitality from the Dobrin clan and also the Spanish Hills tennis club where we had a terrific practice today.

We're back on court tomorrow at 1pm vs #17 ranked University of LaVerne as we look to avenge last years 5-4 battle and move up in the rankings.  I've got a lot of confidence in this team and can't wait to update you again.  For now, we're enjoying each others company immensely as we prepare for LaVerne.

You can follow scores as always on Twitter @coachhein and @whitwomentennis and now the team has an instagram account that they made if you're on that.

Thanks for following us!

Coach John

Upcoming matches:
Wed 3/18 1pm #17 University of La Verne at the Claremont Club
Thurs 3/19 10am #30 Vassar at University High School (Irvine)
Fri 3/20 3pm #22 University of Redlands

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Break and a belated thanks

First, I'm sorry for the lack of a recap of the Whitman Winter Classic Feb 27-Mar 1.  It was a phenomenal event with 8 dual matches on campus in 3 days.  We welcomed our friends from Whittier and UT Tyler, both coming in with preseason ITA national rankings of #38 and #39 respectively.  I think its a great thing that the ITA has gone to ranking 40 teams nationally.  It really showcases the depth and talent of DIII tennis.  Speaking of depth, it was the Northwest Conference who really stepped up that weekend, going a combined 6-0 versus Tyler and Whittier.  On the strength of those wins, both Lewis and Clark and Linfield have moved into the top 40 while we remain at #29, poised for an exciting spring break.

My first thank you goes to Dean Snider and Gregg Petcoff in our athletic department.  Dean has been working tirelessly to move Whitman to a true student athlete model where our players are supported well in their athletics along with the tremendous classroom support they get at Whitman.  This makes for an enhanced education and truly special experience, I know as hard as I worked at college tennis it would have been wonderful to have some of the support Whitman is now providing.  I mention Gregg because as our sports communication director, he makes sure scores are posted, articles up, helps me with the live stream (though we are still working some things out, I think it worked well) and many other things to highlight and share what our team is doing.  Also, on a weekend with matches morning to night, John Eckel, Nathan Fry and our training staff did an amazing job keeping everyone on the court playing, thanks guys!

It would be hard to have an amazing weekend of tennis without fans.  To the Dobrin's, Gilbert's, Sigouin's, Alice, Mark and Sandy, all the students, faculty, staff, alums and friends in the Walla Walla community who make Whitman one of the most fun, exciting and positive venues for tennis in all of DIII, we can't thank you enough.
Okay, moving on as we are near the weekend, which means one thing - more matches!  After a well deserved weekend off, practices have been great gearing up for this weekends conference matches and next weeks big spring break trip to California!  I'll provide the schedule here as I'll make an effort to post lots of photos, maybe some video and probably match by match postings this week.

We have a great schedule with UPS and PLU visiting Friday and Saturday followed by matches vs 4 nationally ranked teams on break.  If you're in Southern California and haven't let me know already, I'd love to hear if you'll be at the matches, they should be terrific tennis!

Friday 6pm at home (note the time change) - University of Puget Sound - probably outdoors so no livestream
Saturday 1pm at home - Pacific Lutheran University - forecast is for rain so maybe indoors which would have livestream.

Monday 10am at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Bizantz Tennis Center - #6 Bowdoin
Wednesday 1pm at the Claremont Club - #17 La Verne
Thursday 10am at University High School, Irvine, CA - #30 Vassar
*after the Vassar match the team will host a BBQ for all families, friends, and fans so please contact me to RSVP

Friday 3pm at #22 Redlands

We hope to see you in CA, or have you follow us on our webpage, twitter, or facebook.

Coach John

Monday, February 23, 2015

Home matches, Walla Walla Weather and the Winter Classic

Hi everyone,

So, I was halfway through a post last week about our road trip to Spokane.  As I fumbled with the keyboard and my thoughts on our amazing seniors who led us to victory over conference rival Whitworth, Whitman's student newspaper, the Pioneer beat me to it.  If you haven't already, you can read about our season outlook especially what Morgan, Erin, Maddy and Courtney bring to this team here.

Starting the season with three tough road matches, it was so nice to return home.  We had a wonderful week of February weather with outdoor practices and sunny warm days on Ankeny.  However, the weekend brought a cold snap and an overnight shower Friday so we tried to play George Fox outside, but had to go in for doubles while the courts dried before coming outside to play singles in the sun.  This team can handle anything and we swept all four doubles again with great leadership from the top with Courtney and Morgan, but tremendous play from Seana and Lindsey at #3 to beat a Fox team that is probably their toughest point in the lineup.  At #2, the duo of Maddy and Hanna brought big energy for the sweep and Alex and Jenna G played an exhibition that they swept 8-0.  Moving outside, all three first years got on court and Jenna and Hanna won quickly to seal the match.  Courtney finished next to keep the first years from a 1,2,3 finish, then Lindsey battled through her second set while Allie stayed focused to also win in 2 sets.  This all set up a big third set tie break from Jenna D, who played some of her best tennis when it counted to get the win.  I really like the direction George Fox is going, which is indicitive of our whole conference; we're all getting deeper and more talented, but even more than that they way they compete is with class and great sportsmanship.

Sunday it got even colder, so we agreed to start and stay inside (I hope some of you enjoyed the live streaming, send me feedback if it worked/didn't work or if we can make it better).  Pacific brought a young, athletic team and their big hitting duo of Kaitlyn Lomartire and Jelena Vidovic faced off with Courtney and Morgan at 1 dubs.  This brought out the best of the twins in the young season as they improved both their shot execution and court coverage for a key 8-6 win at 1 doubles.  First off, however were 2 and 4 doubles (exhibition).  Again, Alex and Jenna G (Little J) were solid in scoring an 8-0 win and Erin and Katrina dominated 8-1 to get us on the scoreboard.  At #3, Jenna D and Allie used great serving and big groundies to win points or set up net finishes and put us up 3-0 after doubles. 
Cheering on Courtney and Morgan vs Pacifc

In singles, at #3-6 we got straight set wins from Allie, Erin, Alex and Little J with Allie doing just about everything right, Erin fighting hard when her opponent tried to make a run, Alex dominated start to finish and Jenna fought through some of her own unforced errors to lock down her match.  While Courtney rested, Morgan battled at #2 and while the scoreline of 1-6,2-6 looks daunting, Jelena is a great player who looks to be playing some of the best tennis in our conference right from the start of the season and the second set really could have swung Mo's way early before Jelena came up with some huge shots on key points.  The #1 match was the battle of the day with two big hitting baseliners going at it.  Jenna fought through a tight first set and came up with some huge winners to seal it.  Then, Kaitlyn got it going and was up a break 4-1 in the second.  Jenna stayed focused and got the break back and broke again to win 6-4,6-4.  It was a great match for both players and we enjoyed the level of hitting and athleticism both brought.

But, that was just a warm up for the Bratton Tennis Center.  We'll host the Whitman Winter Classic this Friday through Sunday.  We're talking about so much great tennis all day long in Bratton!  Coming to town are the #38 ranked Whittier Poets and #39 Texas Tyler Patriots to play us, Linfield (#10 West) and Lewis and Clark (#15 West).  The Poets are an up and coming team with one of the top singles players in the West and UT Tyler is always at or near the top of their conference and last year we faced them in the first round of NCAA's scoring hard fought 5-4 win.  The action will start each morning and go until we finish each night, and if that's not enough for you - at the end, Whitworth comes to town for our second of two NWC matches with them.

Friday 2/27
9am Whitman vs Whittier (WC v WC)
1 pm (not before) UT Tyler vs Lewis and Clark
5pm (not before) Whittier vs Linfield

Saturday 2/28
9am UT Tyler v Whittier
1pm (not before) UT Tyler v Linfield
5pm (not before) Whittier v Lewis and Clark

Sunday 3/1
9am Whitman vs UT Tyler
1pm (not before) Whitman vs Whitworth

Live streaming will be through the Whitman athletics website there is either a camera link on the schedule or you click on Multimedia and Live stream to watch all 4 courts!  Scoring will most likely be via twitter, but we're working on if we can get it on the livestream or put up a scoreboard somehow.

Those of you coming to Walla Walla, we'll plan on a team/family/alum dinner Saturday night - I haven't worked out the details so get in touch if you'll be there or would like to help plan!

Thanks for following WC Women's Tennis!