Friday, September 28, 2012

Want to look like a Whit Women's Tennis Player?

Each Fall I'm usually spending so much time on court that I don't get around to things like ordering uniforms, so we always get at least one item that the team can all have, usually a long sleeve shirt.  This year, we came up with the design below and the team and fans loved it, so I'm offering to order more for anyone who would like one.

The cost to you will be $30 which covers the shirt, printing, shipping to you and leaves about 2 bucks profit for the team -always feel free to contribute more if you like - but this is not a fundraiser, people just really like these shirts.

They are navy in color, dri fit, and come in women's or mens sizes. The women's cut is slimmer.  Along with the front, the shirts have in yellow our lady missionary logo and a DH for Dave Holden's memory on the sleeve.

To order, please email me at or give me a call.  Please order by October 3rd and they *might* be ready by Family Weekend on campus Oct 19th.

These are the shirts....and a happy team modeling them
These light blue shirts show the lady missionary that is on the back in yellow of the long sleeves

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hard Work Leads to Big Fun

In looking to recap this year's fall USTA/ITA regional tournament I'll try not to repeat too much of what you can find on the Whitman webpage about results or overall feelings for the tournament.  I will share with you some of  my thoughts on this fabulous weekend of tennis.  Many athletes have said something similar but I remember years ago Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Farve being asked about the pressure of a super bowl.  He said that the game was just fun, you've prepared so much, you know you've done everything you can and so finally getting the opportunity to do it is more enjoyable than stressful.

This is how I felt this weekend.  As players and coaches, we're always looking at each performance to figure out what went well and what could have been better.  Well, the credit of being prepared this year was the perfect combination of individual accountability and coming together to push each other together.  It is very hard to simulate the rigors of playing two singles and two doubles matches each day and the way we handled it mentally and physically was very impressive.

A huge thing I always look for is how are our first year players going to perform?  Well, the answers provided by Katrina, Kate and Jenna were outstanding.  Katrina stepped up Friday night to qualify and we know she has all the shots but I watched her drop a close first set, make a tactical change, get comfortable and win in 3 sets - what composure!  Then after battling the 4 seed in the first round, she had more success in consolation and eventually lost to a good player from Whitworth.  Kate, who won a high school state singles championship but never spent the whole year traveling to every USTA tournament was someone we knew had the talent and mental strength to win matches, but how would she fare in college tennis?  Well, two day one wins over players who played #1 singles for PLU and George Fox last year gave us a quick answer.  Happy, but not yet satisfied, she gave the #4 seed, a very accomplished junior player at the national level a run in the second set losing 6-0,6-3.  Kate turned some heads with her play, but is definitely excited to learn from every match and gain confidence in her strengths and keep improving other areas. especially doubles.  Jenna, with the best junior background and a seed next to her name showed great composure.  She did draw a very tough first round player who ended up winning one of the consolation flights and after losing the first game there was a slight feeling among people watching that, "maybe this kid from Whitman isn't as good as they'd hoped".  12 games later, walking off the court with her first college win 6-1,6-0, that thought was gone.  After cruising in the second round, Jenna was excited to face fellow first year seed Claudia Lew. Claudia is a well rounded player who is great from the baseline and they battled throughout the first set, but behind her big serve and smart groundstroke patterns, Jenna came out on top 7-5 and rolled 6-1 in the second set for one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.

Shortly after Jenna's match on the same court, with the same teams playing, Whittie sophomore and #5 seed Morgan took on the #4 seed Aurora Garrison who had already taken down Katrina and Kate.  Whether she was defending her teammates, her home courts or just playing the only way she knows how at 100% effort, Morgan displayed all of the growth in her game from last year with the super hard work she did in Texas this summer and pulled out an 8-6 first set tie break, then got down a break 2-5, got it back and put the pressure on to win 7-6(6), 7-5 in maybe the best match of the tournament.  The early round draws were not as kind to sophomores Erin and Maddy.  Maddy drew the #3 seed, Caroline Brigham from Linfield and had a lot of close games but the consistency of Caroline was just too much.  Erin's match I wasn't able to watch but both she and Emily said her play was really solid losing a 6-4 first set to a #9 seed from PLU.  The second set got away, but Erin's game is getting more and more solid and she's enjoying her tennis which makes it more fun for her and helps her results.  Both Erin and Maddy played solid in the consolation, each winning matches and falling to crafty senior Izzy Borris from LC.  I could tell you a long story about how amazing Courtney is as a player, and that is apparent as she won the singles title only dropping 8 games in 6 matches, but it is her attitude of always getting better, displaying the highest level of sportsmanship, and helping the team and enjoying the fact that she gets to play a game she loves with people she cares about that are reflective of the entire team, but that she certainly does as well as anyone.  I'll just say that I'm very proud of all our sophomores as leaders, as players and mostly as people.

Our junior class was represented by Liv, as HP, Mags and Had are studying abroad (and sending well wishes!).  Liv did get a win in the singles consolation but her results don't tell the story of how she's improved her composure, tactics and mental game.  Always possessing big shots, we want her to keep those and keep learning how to use them in different situations and I am very excited about what I saw from her this weekend as she battled an elbow injury and some tough opponents but stayed tough mentally.

SENIORS!!!! This story could be one of woe as Alyssa was so strong physically last year in sweeping the singles and doubles titles and while her fitness is just as good or better, she has battled a series of respiratory infections this fall that have kept her off the practice court more than she'd like.  Unfortunately, she had to pull out of singles to avoid running too much and leaving a lung on the court, but she was able to join with Courtney in doubles where they held their #1 seeding and took the title over Jenna and Morgan.  The doubles final was not just a dream for me because we were set to win either way, but the tennis from these four at the end of a brutally long weekend of tennis was the caliber that I'll take into a dual match with any team in the country.  There were very few unforced errors, or free points, and both teams finished their chances consistently.  The difference seemed to be that Alyssa and Courtney had a little more on their aggressive shots and were able to put them away, which is tough because both teams defend so well.  Jenna and Morgan had terrific chemistry, competed wonderfully but also will learn to expand their game as Courtney and Alyssa have worked so hard to do over the past year.
Jenna, Morgan, Alyssa and Courtney feeling great after a terrific all Whitman doubles final

And speaking of doubles titles, KKP and Maddy found themselves in a tough first round against Willamette's #1 team, so moving to the back draw, they gained momentum and confidence each match and beat some very solid teams to take the doubles consolation. In the final, when it was 4-5, they broke serve to tie and Linfield came right back at them forcing their service game to some insanely high number of deuces, but with the home crowd behind them, great communication and positive energy, they stayed aggressive, won the game and carried the next two for an 8-5 win and the title.  For a team who only practiced a couple of days together, this was a terrific performance and a great sign for Kate of where her doubles is at.

I also can't say enough how much fun it is to host.  I was concerned that being at home in an individual tournament and playing some huge matches against each other that we could keep the great team feel that we always have during dual matches.  As with the tennis, our communication in team meetings and the work ethic in practices and team bonding times paid off in what was a terribly fun weekend.  People were able to study and go to class Monday when they needed to, but you could always hear support from teammates, friends and the many family members and alums who made the trip and watched us play.

Thanks to alums Dena Wessel and Katie Collier for being here, and to the Lawless, Dobrin, Rubinstein, Kunkel and Patterson families as well as Liz Bates, Annie Webster and Arlene Roberg.  Your help, support and enthusiasm for everything we do is invaluable.  Thank you all along with our tournament volunteers Jen, Tom, Victoria, Chirs, Ann Beery for court use at the Country Club and our awesome training staff.  Whitman Alum Conor Holton Burke stepped up to write some web articles over the weekend which were terrific and while nothing can replace our friend Dave Holden, Conor and Jim Buchan from the Union Bulletin did a great job.

Now, we look forward to some rest, a productive fall off-season and a trip to the USTA/ITA Fall Nationals in Mobile, AL for Courtney in singles and Courtney and Alyssa in doubles!!!!  Colton Malesovas, James Rivers and Andrew LaCava from our men's team will join us there as they swept their regional as well, congrats guys!

Best wishes from Walla Wallla,

Friday, September 21, 2012

Qualifying...a new concept for the Northwest Women

Fall Regional Tournament Day 1:
We have always capped the draws at 64 singles and 32 doubles but as the conference continues to improve and get deeper, more teams have good players to play.  Tonight at the outdoor courts we saw that as Olivia and Katrina played qualifying matches to get into the main draw of the tournament.

Both played well, but also showed some nerves; Katrina came back from a tightly contested 5-7 first set to settle down, play smarter and win 5-7, 6-3,6-3.  Liv stayed steady but after losing a close first set she let off the gas slightly as her opponent got better and better, the last few games Liv started to find her rythym, but it was too late as she lost 6-4,6-3.  Liv will play consolation tomorrow afternoon, while Katrina has a 10am showdown with the #4 seed and all the tools to score an upset!

It was a beautiful evening, with great energy from the fans and awesome tennis on court.  What a preview for what is coming tomorrow!

Tournament Draws and Whittie times

Our tournament draw links that will be updated are


Singles Consolation


Doubles Consolation

We also have Katrina and Olivia playing matches TODAY at 5:30 pm to get into the main draw of singles!!!

Saturday singles starts are:
8am: Morgan indoors, KKP outside
9am: Kate R indoors
10am: Katrina indoors, Maddy outside
11am: Erin indoors, Jenna outside
12pm: Liv indoors
1pm: Alyssa indoors, Courtney outside

Doubles start around 5pm for the first rounds and we have all 5 teams with
Alyssa and Courtney seeded #1
Morgan and Jenna block seeded #5-8
also in action are:  Maddy and KKP, Erin and Katrina (team Cal Club, go SF!), and Liv and Kate R

We'll have Saturday consolation matches in the afternoon/evening at the Walla Walla Country Club (thanks Ann and the CC!)


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jumping into the Fall USTA/ITA Regional at Whitman

Ok, this is a cheesy title to the blog post, but last Friday Erin emailed the team that morning that it was "Fun Friday" and on HP's birthday we took some photos to send to her.  Still, the hard work, excitement and true fun this group has with each other is unreal.

Ok, it is tournament week.  What does that mean for a college student?  Well, not just do the normal go to class, go to practice, go to the gym, go to the library, go eat, go hang out with, these young women really do an unreal job managing their time; but who wouldn't want their job to be engaging in learning in the classroom and on the court and doing it with friends in this beautiful place.  Still, this week is our only competition this fall so everyone is pumped and knows it will be busy so on top of all those usual things, people are getting ahead on schoolwork to enjoy the tournament on campus this weekend.

Here are links to the draws that I'll update through the weekend.  We're really excited not just to play but also to see many friends and family as we host this event.

Singles Qualifying:

Singles Main:

Doubles Qualifying: 

Doubles Main:

More to come...
Coach John

PS  I haven't written it up yet, but KKP was our Whittie of the Week last week.  It is the most fun for me to see her growth as a leader and communicator over the past four years, but it was a first year teammate who nominated her for her "awesome, positive attitude and bright smile on and off the court everyday! Her energy and enthusiasm pumps up the team!"  Congrats Kate! Great contributions.

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Fall Whittie of the Week

Each week we're in season, the team nominates and votes for the player who contributed most to the team that week.  Last week was our first week of fall practice and while I was super excited about the effort and level of tennis we're at on the whole, what I'm really proud of is how people are leading while letting others lead.  It's VERY early on, but there is something extraordinary about this group.  You could feel it building last year, and this year the raw exuberance and abundance of leadership talent is coming together each day.

Here are some highlights from the week:

  • On her birthday, Liv finishes practice going through the entire team in a game of Wolverine.
  • Perhaps the player on the roster with the least doubles experience gets the most points on the whole team as we did bump and switch doubles tie breaks with different partners each time...hello and welcome to college tennis Kate Rubinstein.
  • The team supports our buddy team watching men's soccer, goes for a 3 mile run in the wheat fields, then has an outstanding doubles practice.
And, with an amazing attitude on court that lifted everyone and proactive and positive leadership daily, not to mention a well-tuned game after a summer at the Cal Club in SF, Erin is our Whittie of the Week!

Read more about Erin here.

Thanks to those of you who bought raffle tickets to support our team, the W Club golf tournament is this weekend and Whitman Hall of Fame Alum Lynn Greer McKelvey will be in town as a member of the W Club board, hopefully the team gets to spend some time with her.

Next week is the countdown to the Fall USTA/ITA Regional at Whitman, lots of updates and facebook posts to come then!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Berries, Birthdays and playing Ball

So......I wanted to do a post every Monday, but wow its already Tuesday night!

It's pretty hard to describe how great this time of year is: excitement is everywhere on campus - from the classroom to the courts everyone is enjoying being back together.  In what has become one of the teams favorite start of the year traditions we joined the men's team and went out to Hutch's place - the home and horse ranch on the Walla Walla River of Biology prof Delbert Hutchison- for team blackberry picking.  Coach Jeff stepped up once again providing an awesome dutch oven pot pie, we had a great fire, and lots of blackberries for cobbler.  Jeff took some photos you can find on his blog (or this link).

What a fun start to the year, and it was the twins birthday!  Then, Monday was our first practice (which is like Christmas for me to be on court with everyone).  It was a great one as we celebrated Liv's birthday and had a great focused, efficient and fun session of singles play.  Liv even finished off the day going through everyone on the team in a game we like to call Wolverine (hint - it's HARD).   The depth we have each year is better and better both from hard work put in by our returners and a great recruiting class.

Today many of us watched our buddy team, men's soccer battle to a 1-1 tie before running out to the wheat fields and playing some doubles under the lights.

Speaking of lights, the new ones in Bratton are just about ready to go, so even with wonderful sunshine, we know our awesome indoor center is now brightly lit with wonderful new fixtures!

Men's coach Jeff Northam and I check out the new lights 
I also must tell you about something I should have long ago, but in preparing for hosting our own fall tournament, I neglected to post about the W Club's annual golf fundraiser.  If you can't make it out to play golf to support Whitman Athletics on Friday September 14th at the Walla Walla Country Club, you can still buy $10 raffle tickets with great prizes including a couple of Walla Walla weekends with lodging and golf or wine tasting!  Plus, every one of your ticket dollars goes straight to the women's tennis budget if you get them from me.  Let me know if you want tickets or are interested in playing.

I hope everyone had a great Labor day weekend and is enjoying life half as much as we are.

Coach John