Women’s tennis kicked off the season with a victory in an exhibition game against the University of Oregon on Feb. 10 with a final score of 6-3.
The Wildcats were full of spirit, shouting encouragements to their team members from the sidelines whenever they could. They chanted players’ names, mixed with “Go Cats!” or “Great job!” after near misses and powerful hits.
Sophomores Lexi Thomas and Caroline Brigham were crowd favorites during their matches, getting loud cheers of support after every powerful swing.
“We train hard and support each other on and off the court, and I think that that will give us an edge over other teams,” senior Kiana Nip said.
This year, the team is going to use that positivity to keep their place as one of Linfield’s best sports teams.
“Since we have a young team this year, with four new freshmen (including my younger sister), I’m excited to see how we grow as a team,” Nip said. “We have very good, competitive players on the team and we really want that conference title this year.”
Coach Amy Dames Smith said she is looking forward to the opportunities this season will bring. She’s most proud of the consistency of the women’s tennis program, she said.
“We’ve managed to maintain the No. 1 or No. 2 spot in our conference over the last decade. I think that’s a testament to the character, quality and commitment of our student athletes,” Dames Smith said. “We’re a bit younger than last year’s team, but I think we’re right on par with talent and potential to be just as deep as we were last year, if not deeper.”
Dames Smith is in her ninth season as the women’s tennis coach. This season, she said she is most looking forward to the conference matches.
“They’re always exciting, and over the course of a match, there is always so much growth that takes place for the girls on the team, individually and within our team,” she said.
The team practices five times a week and has matches every weekend. With such a busy schedule, balancing school, practice, and a social life can be overwhelming.
“I think the one thing that I have learned to do as a college athlete is balance my time,” Nip said. ”Time management helps because it helps me to prioritize my day.”
Women’s tennis has two home games this weekend. The first game is against Pacific University on Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. The second game is against Whitman College on Feb. 18 at 10 a.m.
Sammi Palmer/Staff writer
Sammi Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.