Author: Kelly Neukom|Kelly Neukom
The women’s tennis team came in fifth during the SCIAC championships on the weekend of April 19-20 after a hard-fought season. The team entered the tournament in the number four slot. Their first opponent was University of La Verne, and although the match was close, the Tigers lost 5-4 to La Verne (the number five seed).
Oxy then defeated the number eight team, Caltech, 8-0 on April 18. The next day, the Tigers played their final round against Cal Lutheran University and won the match 5-4, securing their fifth place position in the tournament.
The tournament line-up for Oxy was made up of a majority of first-years. Danielle Sigler and Isabelle Ying each scored 4-2, while Kisa Ito and Colleen Robins went 3-3. The strongest players on the team were Marissa Cassman (sophomore), who went 6-0 in the tournament and was named Second Team All-SCIAC at the end of the event, the Oxy athletics website said. Jennifer Wahba (junior) had a 5-1 record for the weekend and was named First Team All-SCIAC.
With three losses and six wins since spring break (not including the tournament matches), Oxy’s record this season was 8-11 overall, with 6-4 in the SCIAC. The season has been fraught with player injuries, which has hurt the team overall.
“This season has been tough for a number of reasons,” Cassman said. “Almost every person on the team ended up having some sort of injury at one point or another during the season.”
“Some people are playing through their injuries, like me; others have kind of dropped out of the team,” Ying said.
The number of injured players affected the team’s tournament performance greatly. “Injuries have really been a set back for the team, especially yesterday for me because I couldn’t really even move my right arm and so hitting was extremely difficult,” Ying said. “Because I lost my matches against La Verne, we lost as a team and I didn’t do my part to help out the team to beat a team that we should beat easily.”
However, Ying said the numerous setbacks the team has encountered has actually made them stronger. “It’s been quite disappointing how we’ve been scrambling for players [this season], but I think the people who have been dedicated to the team have really bonded,” she said. “I like how the team really supports each other on and off the court.”
Cassman agreed with Ying. “I love my teammates,” she said.
Coach Linda Park admitted that although the team would have been more successful with more healthy players, “every program suffers from injuries and the strength of the program can be determined by how well the team gets though these injuries.”
“We were able to finish the season tied for fourth,” Park said. “This means that our seventh through 10th players (along with the healthy first through sixth) stepped up and played well enough to secure that fourth spot in SCIAC. I am proud of them.”
Park said that she appreciates all of the effort her players put into every match. “Coaching tennis has been rewarding because I’ve seen many of my players work hard and try to do their best on the court,” she said. “There are many ups and downs during a season, but at the end of the day, these players want to improve and they want to do better. They want to be a part of a winning program and they want commitment from their teammates. I enjoy being a part of a group that has common goals and is working towards success and greatness.”
The players have good things to say about Park as well. “Our coach is really passionate about tennis and cares a lot about our team,” Cassman said. “She is still an amazing tennis player and can kick butt on the court, too.”
Both the players and Park are optimistic about next season.
“We have a lot of potential because we are all returning to play next year,” Cassman said. “I think the combination of all of our injuries had exhausted us by the end of the season, so hopefully we can come back healthy, rested and excited to play next year.”
Park is expecting five new first-years to join next year, hopefully revitalizing the team. “We believe that our next season will continue in a positive direction,” she said.
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