The tennis career of Linfield College’s Sarah Click did not begin in a conventional manner. Growing up playing soccer and basketball, it was not until the ninth grade that Click decided to pick up tennis during the spring. Deciding to go out for the sport with a close friend and fellow basketball teammate, Click quickly fell in love with the game that would prove to the sport she would eventually play at Linfield.
“The reason I chose to stick with tennis is because I loved playing and loved improving,” reflects Click, a senior from Vancouver, Wash. “I started in high school so I don’t have same background as most players but playing other sports and being competitive have helped me in the long run.”
After honing her skills at Skyview High School, Click made an instant impact as a freshman at Linfield in 2007-08, winning 11 singles matches. She continued to have success over the following two seasons, winning 31 doubles matches and 26 singles matches across her sophomore and junior seasons.
Last fall, Click took her game to the next level, reaching the West Region championships in doubles with her partner, junior Abby Olbrich.
Along with improving her tennis fundamentals, Click has strengthened her mental approach.
“One of the biggest growths I’ve made over the four years has been with my mental game,” notes Click on the strides she’s made during her time at Linfield. “It’s one of the biggest things you learn through experience. It’s all about maintaining a confident attitude on the court and being positive.”
Blending her athleticism with a competitive spirit, Click developed into an important cog in Linfield’s success. Boasting a 9-4 singles record and a 12-4 doubles mark, Click heads into this weekend’s Northwest Conference championships with high aspirations.
As a team, the Wildcats enter the tournament as the NWC’s No. 2 seed.
“I think we are peaking at a good time but we are going to need to maintain a high level of play during the conference tournament,” explains Click. “Abby and I just want to play steady and contribute. My goal is to win my singles matches at the conference tournament. I’d be really proud to contribute a win.”
For head coach Amy Dames Smith, any accomplishment from Click during the conference tournament is a reflection of her hard word over the past four seasons.
“Sarah has grown, matured and really come to a good understanding of the game,” reflects Dames Smith. “She has always been willing to take risks and be aggressive and I know that’s one of the reasons she has improved so much over the years.”
Along with Dames Smith, Olbrich has seen Click’s development during their time playing doubles together. The two teammates date their friendship back to Vancouver, where both attended Skyview High School.
“Sarah is an incredible person,” reflects Olbrich. “She is genuine and energetic. I couldn’t ask for a better doubles partner or best friend.”
Heading into the conference tournament, Click’s athleticism and ability to play an aggressive style of play poses a serious threat to conference opponents.
Because of her desire to attack the net, Click sees the doubles game as a better fit for her style.
“I love playing doubles because it’s quicker and you get to be more active at the net,” she says. “With singles, it’s as much about preparing for a mental battle as it is getting ready physically. I’ve been trying to be more aggressive in singles because that plays into my strength.”
Click’s aggressive style of play comes as a result of her background as a multi-sport athlete. In an age of specialization in which athletes focus on one sport, this background has aided Click’s development in the sport.
“I think I’ve improved a lot by recognizing my strengths and using my athleticism,” says Click. “Though I’m not someone who has played tennis my whole life, I’ve found ways to use my experience in other sports to my advantage.”
With her senior season nearing its inevitable conclusion, Click plans to turn her focus towards pursuing a career in the medical field after graduation. A chemistry major, she hopes to work at OHSU in Portland this summer, before applying to medical school.
Regardless of how the conference tournament plays itself out, Click has an appreciation for her accomplishments at Linfield.
“I’ve always been an advocate for sports being a good character builder and a way to learn a lot of important skills,” notes Click. “The relationships I’ve built while being a part of this program have been so important, whether it’s my teammates or coaches. It’s been a very positive experience in terms of building relationships here at school.”
– Eric Evenson ‘11