Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2015 Season Preview

Dear followers, fans and families,

After a fall away from the blog using my email list (email me at heinj@whitman to be added for updates including new blog posts), I'm getting back to the blog as a way to share weekly - if not more often what we're up to here in Walla Walla.

After one of the most fun and successful seasons in program history, it's safe to say that what we have now is a "program".  As a team, we continue to build on our strengths and push the envelope to find new ways to grow together as individuals and a team.  If you got my fall emails, you know how incredibly excited I am with our new players.  Alex has made a wonderful transition from Art School in Vancouver, though moving away from such a tight family and support system at home has it's challenges.  That's what the team is all about though, channeling that love of tennis into a true family at Whitman.  Hanna, Jenna G (or Little J as we call her) and Lindsey have met every expectation I had of them (and I thought A LOT of each of them) in recruiting and are all making huge contributions daily.

In fact, the depth on our team is a fun problem to have, and it really is fun because the leadership from so many places on this team is off the charts so we're really enjoying our court time together and looking forward to competing together.  I couldn't tell you (well, I could but that might spoil the surprise, and I could be proven wrong in the next couple weeks of practice), what our lineup is because we're having the most competitive practices full of upsets, tight sets and a really high level of play coming off of the fall and a long winter break.

We're excited to welcome in fellow Slug Alum Morgan Shepherd this weekend to work with the team on honing our practice habits and then we hit the road for back to back weekends:

Feb 8th at Lewis Clark State College (Idaho) 9am
Feb 14th at Whitworth  10am
Feb 15th at Eastern Washington University  10am

Then, we have a wonderful month of home matches up to spring break with conference matches on the road after break.  We will be planning alumni/family/fan events in Tacoma and Portland so let me know if you'd like to help in the planning of that.

I feel like I'm missing tons, like our fundraising camps with Emily Rolston, our awesome Spring Break schedule in California, a stellar academic fall for the team.....I'll have to do more posts and if you're not already, I encourage you to get involved and like us on facebook for more frequent updates, photos, videos and also so you can all interact.

For now I'll say I couldn't be more fired up for today's practice, so I'm going to go get ready and I wish you all the best in 2015.

Coach John

Future Posts:
-WC Winter Classic
-Whittie of the Week Updates
-2015 Recruiting Commitments - meet our incoming Whitties

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Tennis Love

Happy Mothers Day!

This is a recap post, but I'll start by thanking all the Mom's out there, especially of our WhitWomen's Tennis team and mostly my Mom for always being there for me - Mom, you're the best!

Well, our team season concluded yesterday with a hard fought round of 32 match with the Athena's of CMS.  Coming off an inspiring 5-4 win over UT Tyler in the first round of NCAA's, we carried our intensity and fight into yesterday's match with the #5 ranked team in the country.

After dropping one doubles quickly to an on fire CMS team, two and three doubles showcased our growth that we can play with anyone at any spot in the lineup.  Allie and Morgan have only played one match and a few practices together as Morgan spent the latter part of the season recovering from a groin pull.  They got down 6-2, but the fire was lit and it was unreal to see Morgan leading them and Allie showing off her MUCH improved doubles.  In the end they fell 7-9, but showed that our doubles future is so bright!  At two, our most consistent team of Erin and Katrina started with amazing energy to go up 3-0, then CMS fought back to 3-3 and the battle was on.  Trading games it was inspiring to see how our team embraced the moment to earn a huge hold at 6-6 and a break to win 8-6 and get us on the board.

Singles was intense from the start.  The Athenas are so good because they are solid up and down the lineup, but at 4 and 5 especially, they are wonderful experienced singles players and our newcomers Erin and Allie played like veterans fighting and staying focused on the moment, but each of them fell by deceiving straight set scores. So, down 4-1 with Maddy the only one up a set, I was again so impressed with our effort.  Many teams would go away, but we fought and scrapped with Jenna going up a break in the second set, Courtney showing her patented determination to will herself from being down a set and 4-5 to a 7-5 second set.  Morgan dropped an intense long first set and then was down 1-4.  Morgan, even still not 100% with her leg is one of the best fighters in the business and she came up with some shots and gets that were inspiring as she fought back to 4-4 in the second set.  Unfortunately it wasn't enough as her opponent stepped up to win 6-4 and clinch the match.

Overall, the tournament was such a great way to end a phenomenal season.  How much the team enjoyed the process of setting lofty goals and doing the work to get better every day was incredible.  We hold our heads high with much pride for what we've done and would have wanted more tennis as it would mean more time together.  So, there is a mix of finality with the end of Hannah, Maggie and Olivia's college tennis careers.  I'm so proud as they were a huge part our development from a competitive team in conference to a regular national contender.  Even more than that, they exemplify what it means to not only grow your tennis, but grow as teammates and people.  I'm so proud of them as they near graduation and very bright futures as intelligent, respectful, talented leaders.

This year has also seen the emergence of Chelsea Patton as a coach.  In her first year coaching, C Patt had an incredible impact on our team, adding intensity to everything while teaching the team not just how to get better on court, but how to give your whole heart, mind and body to something.  Congrats on an amazing season Coach Patton!

We also can never say enough what it means to have our incredible support system, so on Mother's day I am so happy to have had a terrific family and friend presence at the matches.  Thanks to the Wallin, Dobrin, Allick, Palkowitz, Bell and Webster families for cheering us on at NCAA's!  You're all so outstanding.

So concludes a terrific season and we look forward to summer adventures and an even bigger year next year as we return the bulk of our team and welcome a strong class of first year players.  BUT....

we're not done yet!  Courtney will be competing at NCAA individual nationals, right back at the CMS courts in Claremont CA Thursday through Saturday May 22-24th!

Happy Mothers Day!
Coach John

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Links to watch or follow scores at NCAA regionals

Tomorrow is match day, Friday at 10am PST versus UT Tyler.

You can watch live at:

You can follow live scoring at:

Go Missionaries!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Headed to Claremont

Hello friends,

If you haven't heard, our Whittie Women are headed south to Claremont, CA, where the CMS Athenas host the first three rounds (regionals) of the NCAA tournament.

We come in as the 4 seed in this 6 team regional and I'm super excited to play a really solid UT Tyler team.  They are #5 in the regional and sit just outside the ITA rankings (one of the top unranked teams in the country), so we're looking forward to a great match Friday at 10am on the lower courts at CMS.

The winner moves on to play top regional seed and #5 in the nation CMS.  We played CMS early on in Hawaii and while they were missing two key players, their top players played and we battled to a 3-6 loss with some close ones so we'd love the opportunity for a rematch.

On the other side of the bracket challenging for a spot in the elite 8 are LaVerne, Pomona-Pitzer and UC Santa Cruz.  It's the deepest regional in the country and we love the challenge ahead.

If you are coming to watch and haven't already been in touch, please let me know, we have such amazing fans and look forward to a great atmosphere on Friday!

Draws are at ncaa.com the link is

My best to all!