I am really excited about this year and the upcoming tennis season for two reasons: first, because it is going to be the last one I will ever play in college, but also because the whole team improved a lot, has a good spirit and seems to be stronger and more homogeneous.
The fall is always more relaxing than the spring because the season does not start before the end of January what gives us time to work on whatever we need to improve and at the same time we play a few tournaments – St Mary’s, Stanford and Cal Poly – to implement what we learned. As we have more time, this semester is also the opportunity for us to do fundraising and improve our program; on Sunday – during the Battle of the Bay tournament reassembling the top tennis players from North California at the Cal Club – my team and I will be playing with children for one and a half hours. Two more exhibitions in different tennis clubs, a mixer in the Cal Club and one ‘Alumni’ day are also planned for October. In addition to these exhibitions, coach Hilary Somer set us up to play with underprivileged children from an elementary school in the Richmond; we will teach these kids how to play tennis for a few hours twice a week, starting mid-Oct. and each of us will get paid for these lessons.
“I am very excited to work with kids, especially those whose families don’t have the means to make them play a sport,” junior Alana McMahon said. “I know I’ll gain a lot from this experience, and at the same time, it’s something these children will never forget.”
This particular fall puts us in the best conditions to work hard and improve our game as the courts at Golden Gate Park have been resurfaced just one week before we started practice again: they are definitely less fast than before and there are no more cracks to deceive us by deviating the balls from their initial direction.
One of our goals for next season is to bring more people to our games to support us. It is not always easy to get visibility since the tennis courts we play on are not on campus; so one of the strategies will be to create more Facebook events and to invite not only the friends that we have in common, but all the friends we respectively have and that live in or around San Francisco.
“Right now, if you don’t count the homeless people living in the park, we have probably seven or eight fans coming on a regular basis to our games,” junior Andrea Gaitan said with a smile.
With Jenni Heinser’s graduation, some malicious gossip foresee that our team will fall apart as Heinser was our top player who won the title of best West Coast Conference player every year, and who lost only a couple of games in four years. However, coach Somer recruited a good French player, Cecile Duriez, who has the potential to follow Heinser’s steps.
“I feel like everyone in the team is really committed to make this season great, and even though Pepperdine and St Mary’s are solid teams always on top of the West Coast Conference ranking, I’m hopeful and I know that we have the arms to do something good,” captain Julia Wartenburger said.
Even though my teammates and I are enthusiast and optimistic, it is not time to project ourselves in the season yet as we have to focus to play our first tournament of the fall next weekend at St Mary’s.
“This competition is going to be a good test for everyone to see where our level is compared to other top teams, and it will help us to work on our respective games accordingly,” senior Cecilia Gratian said.
Jessy Mekpoh is a member of the women’s tennis team
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