Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Celebrate and then Get Back to Work

The team at the Farrell's house

Happy Passover and belated Easter,

This past holiday weekend, our team faced an incredible challenge in coming off of Spring Break and hitting the road to play the two toughest teams (right now) in our conference.  It was all focus and excitement as we built up to this trip and there was no disappointment in either the results or how we got them as we beat #37 ranked Linfield 7-2 and pulled off a thrilling win over #31 Lewis and Clark.

In sports, belief is huge when you play someone of equal talent.  Our team continues to grow and this weekend all of the things we work so hard at each day in practice, through spending time bonding, and in our goals for how we compete with intensity and sportsmanship each match led to the kind of team belief you need to overcome great opponents.

Saturday we took on Linfield.  Always a tough well coached team, they added some serious punch to their lineup with first years at 1,2, 4 and 6!  The young cats competed really well scoring a win at #1 singles and #2 doubles.  Each of these matches was incredibly well played and while I'm sure we'd like a few opportunities back in dubs, Erin and Tree kept to their game and forced their opponents to play an incredible proset.  This year has been a steady uphill climb for Courtney who has overcome illness and lack of playing and practice time to get closer to full strength.  Her form is coming as she split sets with the hottest player in the conference this Spring.  The best part was playing out in the sun and getting 6 doubles matches so our tandems of Lindsey/Seana, Alex/Jenna G and Jenna D and Allie all added to the fun with great energy and doubles play.  This carried into singles where we used all 9 courts and even got a tenth set of play in.  On the day, our depth and resolve was tested but came through as we won the match 7-2 and including exhibitions went 14-2!  Some highlights were Allie righting the ship after a quick first set loss to roll in 3 sets 1-6,6-1,6-0, Alex, Tree and Maddy sweeping the matches indoors while we battled outside and Morgan playing a player she has had trouble with in the past and clinching a straight sets win.

After the match, the Webster's treated us to an easter egg hunt and the Farrell's (sorry Mike, I mean Katie Farrell) treated us to a fantastic dinner with everyone who was at the match.

Easter Sunday was the showdown between the two remaining undefeated teams in our conference and on their 4 indoor courts, we made a strong start going up 2-1 in doubles.  The young Pio's however are tough at every spot and they fought back with 3 wins at #1,#3 and #4 to go up 4-2.  At that point, Jenna having been down 0-3 in the first had come back to win 6-4 and was on serve but up in the second.  Lindsey was just starting but quickly showed she was in control already up 5-0 in the first set and Erin had a close first set where she struggled to find the right plays dropping it 7-5.  So, with three matches on, we needed them all.  Jenna finished off an intense second set for a 6-4,6-4 win over the #20 player in the West region to pull us to 3-4 and Lindsey took the first and was cruising in the second, showing poise beyond her years.  This left the fate of the match squarely on EBell on court one in front of both teams, the home crowd and a very vocal group of Whitman faithful.  Erin embraced the responsibility, settled into her game and was a picture of controlled intensity winning 5-7, 6-3,6-2.  Just before the final point, Jenna G had a great win at #7 in a proset and Hanna came back from an early 2-5 deficit at #8 to win there as well!

Everything we do is building for these moments and I'm so thrilled that the team was able to enjoy the battle, empower each other and truly believe that no matter what the score was, our fight would carry the day.  With this win, we're in the drivers seat for hosting the conference tournament.  We face three teams we've played already and beaten and one we haven't played.  But it isn't just who we play that give me great confidence that we can bring the conference tournament back to Walla Walla, but its that we're getting better each week.  The schedule is below and if you get the chance to watch any tennis in the next three weeks, I don't think you'll be dissapointed.

It also helps to have an incredible support system and our weekend was not only incredible on court, but it was so fun to stay with the Farrell's and Whittaker's.  Katie and Mike's house is like a second home to Jen and I as they are the friends who introduced us and that is where we had our wedding and it was amazing to have them open their home to the team, parents and alums who were there for the matches.  It was very fitting that they did it in a team fashion though, as their neighbors Tom and Kit are Whitman alums who hosted part of the team.  Appreciation is only the tip of the iceberg to explain what it means to have such great community around us and I speak for the team in saying the biggest thank you to these two amazing families as well as the Greenberg's, Webster's, Gilbert's, Brodeck's and McKelvey's who spent their Easter screaming their lungs out with every tough get and huge winner that got us closer to our goal of winning conference.

Here are some photos from our time in Wilsonville!

Thanks everyone for making the weekend so special!
Maddy and Roddick

Our Easter Egg Hunt courtesy of the Webster's

Found Eggs!

Recovering from the matches or the egg hunt?

Thanks to the everyone for being a part of WhitWomen's Tennis, I'm enjoying every step in this journey.

Coach John

Upcoming events:
Saturday April 11th - away doubleheader, at Pacific 9am, at Willamette 3pm
Saturday April 18th - at Pacific Lutheran 1pm
Sunday April 19th - at University of Puget Sound 10am

Friday/Saturday April 24th-25th (location TBD, Walla Walla if we win all our remaining matches) - Northwest Conference Championships

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Gratitude, Guts and Great Tennis

I'm not sure I can convey in one post just how special our spring break trip was.  We ended up 1-3 on the trip versus some tough top 30 ranked teams, you can check the WC Website here for results because if I go through each match then this post would be lengthy indeed.  I will mention that while you'll see the incredible matches played by Courtney, Morgan, Erin, Katrina, Hanna and Maddy in doubles and Courtney, Jenna D, Morgan, Allie, Erin, Lindsey and Alex in singles I'd like to highlight that in 3 of the four matches we played at least 4 doubles and 9 singles so all 12 of our amazing players got to compete against some of the best competition in DIII.  I'm so proud of Seana and Jenna G who both got great match play to improve but also notched some wins in singles and doubles.

These trips are such an integral part of our season and you alums will know just how much they enhance the quality of experience we have.  We're so grateful for all the support we have from Whitman but also from donors and fundraisers (yes, Tennis and Campers, your good times go to a GREAT cause!).  Without your help we wouldn't be able to take all 12 players.  It is rare for teams to travel with their entire roster, but for us it is so important to build unity and have this experience of top tennis and time together to bond for everyone.  

It was amazing to feel the dynamic on this team which was already so incredible get even stronger.  This week also brought an overwhelming amount of love and support of families who hosted us, hung out and cheered us on, thanks Marilyn, all of Team D, Bob and Annie, Anne, Ken B, all the Gilbert's, and the Wallin's.  There is also not much better than alums at matches, way to get down from your job in the bay area Hannah Pals!  It's easy to see where our players get their wonderful attitudes from and having you here is something they talked about after the last match as being such a special way to recognize what we do.  I can't say enough how grateful we are for everyone out there supporting us, following tweets, texting in and being there for the team.

Speaking of the team, not only am I fortunate to coach wonderful people, but the level of tennis this week was outstanding.  While we are always striving to improve, each day we left everything on the court.  It might not have showed in the Bowdoin scores, which I'll attribute partly to us just not executing as well as we're capable of, but they showed why they belong in the top 10 as they did little things super well and great consistency.  It was the right match to start our trip as it honed our focus and helped us practice hard on Tuesday (special shout out to Lori, Bday boy Joel and Spanish Hills Club in Camarillo!) and come out Wednesday to get a huge win at La Verne.  The Leo's are a solid team who came up with the goods against us last year and it was a big boost for us as a program to come back from 1-2 in doubles and also to showcase the depth we know we have winning at #3-6 plus at #7,8,9 and #4 doubles.  This was the second top 20 win we've had in my time here and it was a well deserved win.  The next day we had an interesting matchup with Vassar, who also beat La Verne 5-4.  Predictably it was close and with three matches on we were down 2-4, but Erin was up a set and a break and Allie and Jenna had each just split to gain momentum.  Hat's off to Vassar for responding with two third set wins to take the match.  This was our first ever meeting (to my knowledge) between the two teams and I saw a lot of similarities.  Like us, they were intense and tough, but they also had terrific sportsmanship and really nice people on the team, which is something we strive for.

Our last match was another West region showdown at Redlands.  This was the Gilbert family dream as Jenna's sister Alyssa plays for Redlands so I'm glad they got to all be there for the match.  The bulldogs are a seasoned team and they brought it from start to finish as both teams battled hard.  I put guts in the title of this post because our team has so much fight and this match was one where we could have went away, but we battled as usual until the last ball.  That last ball came in Jenna's super tie break at #2.  A week ago Jenna was down and out with a nasty virus, but she bounced back and played three 3 setters in three days - what a testament to her skill and conditioning which is a reflection of everyone on the team.

So, back to gratitude, I have to thank each member of the team for an amazing, fun and memorable spring break.  I'm amazed by how far we've come competing as a unit, and as always, the off court times were full of fun and laughter.  And, as good as the tennis was, we learned a lot and are motivated to get back together and keep improving for the second half of our conference season.

Thanks for reading, and after we enjoy a week off, we'll be back at it with a conference road trip the first weekend in April at Linfield and Lewis and Clark in showdowns of the three nationally ranked teams in our conference!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Break Part 1

Hello Whitman Tennis Fans!

I'm so excited to write you from gorgeous Camarillo, CA.  After finishing an undefeated first half of our conference season, the team flew down to Southern California Sunday for a series of matches with nationally ranked DIII teams.

Perhaps our toughest test came yesterday in our first match as we squared off with #6 ranked Bowdoin.  The Polar Bears are well deserving of their top 10 ranking and after some really fun competitive doubles highlighted by Maddy and Hanna pushing it to 7-9 at the three spot.  For everyone it was great tennis and while it didn't show up on the scoreboard, we showed some great strength, shotmaking and perseverance.  It was a terrific match to start our trip and push us to play better and better as the week goes on.

Today is our off day from matches, but we're up in Camarillo enjoying amazing hospitality from the Dobrin clan and also the Spanish Hills tennis club where we had a terrific practice today.

We're back on court tomorrow at 1pm vs #17 ranked University of LaVerne as we look to avenge last years 5-4 battle and move up in the rankings.  I've got a lot of confidence in this team and can't wait to update you again.  For now, we're enjoying each others company immensely as we prepare for LaVerne.

You can follow scores as always on Twitter @coachhein and @whitwomentennis and now the team has an instagram account that they made if you're on that.

Thanks for following us!

Coach John

Upcoming matches:
Wed 3/18 1pm #17 University of La Verne at the Claremont Club
Thurs 3/19 10am #30 Vassar at University High School (Irvine)
Fri 3/20 3pm #22 University of Redlands

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Break and a belated thanks

First, I'm sorry for the lack of a recap of the Whitman Winter Classic Feb 27-Mar 1.  It was a phenomenal event with 8 dual matches on campus in 3 days.  We welcomed our friends from Whittier and UT Tyler, both coming in with preseason ITA national rankings of #38 and #39 respectively.  I think its a great thing that the ITA has gone to ranking 40 teams nationally.  It really showcases the depth and talent of DIII tennis.  Speaking of depth, it was the Northwest Conference who really stepped up that weekend, going a combined 6-0 versus Tyler and Whittier.  On the strength of those wins, both Lewis and Clark and Linfield have moved into the top 40 while we remain at #29, poised for an exciting spring break.

My first thank you goes to Dean Snider and Gregg Petcoff in our athletic department.  Dean has been working tirelessly to move Whitman to a true student athlete model where our players are supported well in their athletics along with the tremendous classroom support they get at Whitman.  This makes for an enhanced education and truly special experience, I know as hard as I worked at college tennis it would have been wonderful to have some of the support Whitman is now providing.  I mention Gregg because as our sports communication director, he makes sure scores are posted, articles up, helps me with the live stream (though we are still working some things out, I think it worked well) and many other things to highlight and share what our team is doing.  Also, on a weekend with matches morning to night, John Eckel, Nathan Fry and our training staff did an amazing job keeping everyone on the court playing, thanks guys!

It would be hard to have an amazing weekend of tennis without fans.  To the Dobrin's, Gilbert's, Sigouin's, Alice, Mark and Sandy, all the students, faculty, staff, alums and friends in the Walla Walla community who make Whitman one of the most fun, exciting and positive venues for tennis in all of DIII, we can't thank you enough.
Okay, moving on as we are near the weekend, which means one thing - more matches!  After a well deserved weekend off, practices have been great gearing up for this weekends conference matches and next weeks big spring break trip to California!  I'll provide the schedule here as I'll make an effort to post lots of photos, maybe some video and probably match by match postings this week.

We have a great schedule with UPS and PLU visiting Friday and Saturday followed by matches vs 4 nationally ranked teams on break.  If you're in Southern California and haven't let me know already, I'd love to hear if you'll be at the matches, they should be terrific tennis!

Friday 6pm at home (note the time change) - University of Puget Sound - probably outdoors so no livestream
Saturday 1pm at home - Pacific Lutheran University - forecast is for rain so maybe indoors which would have livestream.

Monday 10am at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Bizantz Tennis Center - #6 Bowdoin
Wednesday 1pm at the Claremont Club - #17 La Verne
Thursday 10am at University High School, Irvine, CA - #30 Vassar
*after the Vassar match the team will host a BBQ for all families, friends, and fans so please contact me to RSVP

Friday 3pm at #22 Redlands

We hope to see you in CA, or have you follow us on our webpage, twitter, or facebook.

Coach John