Thursday, October 25, 2012

2013 Whitman Tennis Schedule

Hi all,

On the blog, I've posted a pdf of our 2013 schedule.  We're so excited to have so many great matches at home and our February in Walla Walla will be a hot one even if it's cold and we play indoors under our new lights in Bratton.  First off, we host a great DIII weekend Feb 7th-10th that we're calling the Whitman Winter Classic, where nationally ranked UC Santa Cruz will be joined by NWC contenders Linfield and Willamette for matches on our courts.

The following weekend we host greatly improved Lewis and Clark and DI University of Idaho.  This weekend is one I'm looking at for our Family/Alumni weekend so don't hesitate to ask about that as I continue planning.

March is our road month with no home matches as we travel to Spokane, Tacoma and Portland before heading south to California for Spring Break.  It's a split trip starting with Central Region power Washington University (St. Louis), then the two top ranked Texas teams in Southern Cal followed by matches against West contenders UCSC and Redlands in Santa Cruz, CA.

After some much earned time off, we'll get right back to work in April on our home courts with two NWC weekends and we'll finish with the NWC Tournament at the top seed where we'll look to defend our title and earn another May trip to the NCAA tournament.

If you are coming to Whitman for matches, please let me know as we're excited to see our families, alums, friends and supporters.  If you are planning on watching on the road and want to help organize fans or get involved in team meals and fun, again, please don't hesitate to contact me.

I hope you're all enjoying your fall,

Coach John

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another step forward for Whitman Tennis

If you've been reading the posts the past few days, you know that our fall season has been terrific.  As a team we not only enjoyed wonderful weeks of practice, but also our most successful fall regional ever.  This culminated in Alyssa and Courtney heading to Mobile, AL for the USTA/ITA small college national championships.  After a close play in loss in singles, our top doubles team won their first two matches to earn a spot in the national semifinal, which as far as I know ties the furthest a Whitman women's doubles teams has been in a national championship and that was in 1988 when Lynn Greer and Steph Turner finished 3rd at NCAA's!
Alyssa and Courtney in Mobile - 4th in the Nation!

An action shot from Regionals 
Describing the matches brings both pride and some frustration as we were so close in the semi losing 4-6,6-4,10-8.  In this match, as well as we played, Alyssa and Courtney keep setting a higher and higher standard for their doubles and it was tough to fall short even though the effort was tremendous.   After two days of holding serve regularly, building points and finishing them extremely well; the team from Washington and Lee did a great job on returns and keeping the points on their terms.  On the other hand, our duo competed as they always do and did a terrific job themselves of returning and being aggressive to put pressure on the Generals.  While this match easily could have gone either way, and we'll learn a lot from it of how to take the next step for our top doubles duo.  As frustrating as this loss was, Alyssa and Courtney represented our team, Whitman, the Northwest Conference and the West region with stellar play, 100% effort and outstanding sportsmanship.

The second match of the day had even better tennis, but the 4th seeded team from Williams was totally on their game after falling 10-8 in a match tie break to the eventual champions from Emory.  Williams played as a team really well and just executed shots better than us today. So even in losing, the tennis was really great to watch.

Back home in Walla Walla, I couldn't feel better about the wonderful character, work ethic, talent and leadership we have on this team.  We took a big step forward claiming 4th at a national tournament last week, and the drive is there for us to continue moving in the right direction as we pursue our team goals in Spring.  Congratulations to Alyssa and Courtney on leading the way, and thanks so much to our men's team and their parents for cheering in our matches and to Jeff for taking some photos as well as letting us play some disc golf with them!.  Also, this trip was helped by amazing Whitman alum Deborah Hazelgrove and her family who hosted us in Seattle so we could take a cheaper flight.

That's all for the fall, but I'm sure I'll be reaching out again soon as Whitman is always so active and our players are doing great things off the court as well as on.

Best wishes to all!

Courtney and Alyssa at the Banquet

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Whitman pair moves into National Semifinals

Hello all,

Today at the USTA/ITA small college national championships in Mobile, Alabama; Courtney and Alyssa entered the quarterfinals as the #2 seed and came through with a strong performance and a great win to move on the the semis!

A good account of the match is provided on the Whitman webpage, but really I can't say enough how solid this duo is getting.  They continue to use their natural chemistry and individual skills well, but today as we did yesterday there were just no holes in their game.  They each started points well serving and returning - and this was no small task as Mikayla Becich of Carleton has a cannon for a serve both she and partner Bridget Doyle have great returns.  Once points were started, the ability to defend from anywhere on the court while taking the initiative at the net was outstanding.  From day one of college tennis, Courtney has been one of the best players I've seen in D3 tennis at transitioning on the court and using variety at the net, but she has shown improved power and today displayed it with several strong finishes.  Alyssa, never lacking in the power department, is routinely picking up half volleys off her shoes and making great first volleys to set up the final shots.  This consistent ability of both players to play any role on the court made them formidable today and gives us great confidence heading into what will undoubtedly be a tough battle with a Washington and Lee team in tomorrows 1pm (CST) semifinal matchup.

If we win, we play the final alongside our men's team at 5pm, if not, then we'll play for third at 4pm.  So get ready for a busy day of tennis and check our twitter @coachhein for updates during the matches!

Thanks for those of you who have kept in touch via email/text/facebook etc. and also to our men's team and families for helping us warmup, tweet, cheering us on! Thanks Boys!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moving on in Mobile

Today was play in day for the Northwest  and Southwest regional winners.  Not showing any nerves, Courtney came out solid going up 3-0, then 4-1 in her singles match against a senior transfer from University of Mary Hardin Baylor.  Courtney was using the court really well and countering her opponents big hard groundstrokes with a beautiful all court game.  After several really long well played deuce games, it was tied at 4-4 and her opponent stepped up to pull out the first.  Always very responsive to adversity, Courtney gave it her all in the second jumping out 3-0 again.  Then, with a fall where she was unable to perform her normal practice and fitness routines, the grinding of the long points took its toll and a very good opponent seized the opportunity.  This would have been a very easy match to go away in as she was not feeling well and her opponent was heating up, but every point she fought hard and played so well.  This was two great players going at it and aside from the score going the wrong way, I feel so good about Courtney's play, her tennis and her place as one of the top singles players in our region and all of D3.

Undaunted by a short turnaround between singles and doubles and buoyed by the energy of Alyssa, Courtney came back to play brilliant doubles.  She was so solid on serve and was a force at the net.  Wait, so was Alyssa as she served great and finished strong.  It was truly a team effort in beating a really good team from Trinity.  One of the best things about this match was the subtle adjustments that they made as a team.  They've had terrific chemistry from day one as a doubles team and now they are really putting things together and maintaining terrific energy and confidence while executing quality doubles.

As soon as we finished, we had time to find a puppy to play with while we watched James and Andrew win their play in match on the men's side (also vs Trinity).  I guess we were too much in sync with the guys as Colton lost his singles play in in what looked like a really close and well played match.

We play tomorrow at 3pm Central (1pm PST) vs Doyle and Bechich from Carleton College.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Preview of Fall Nationals

Well tennis fans, tomorrow will be an exciting and interesting day.  Whitman is no stranger to the play in match at the small college nationals in Mobile, AL.

Now 4 of the past 5 seasons, we've had either the singles or doubles winner from our ITA regional competing here and Alyssa and Courtney had a solid tournament last year so feel really comfortable and excited.  Plus, with our October 4- day break, we were able to fly yesterday with our men's team (James and Andrew play doubles and Colton plays singles) without missing extra classes.  In fact, it has been great to see our players balance the preparation for the national tournament, the fun of being together in the South while getting schoolwork done for the days we'll miss the rest of the week.

I'll do my best to tweet results @coachhein as we start this special tournament. Courtney plays singles at 10 am Central and then doubles will follow.  GO WHITMAN!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Double WoW! Maddy and Jenna come through at Fall Tournament

Because the Fall USTA/ITA Regional championships are such an incredible event that the team puts a lot of effort into preparing for and competing in, we'll use the tournament to link up our final two weeks of team play for the fall.
We love our families and the atmosphere of tennis by Ankeny field

Please check out the pdf of Jenna and Maddy who were co-Whitties of the week.  The whole team really came through to prepare well, compete hard and have lots of fun supporting each other on our home courts. Jenna and Maddy did stand out according to their teammates and so they received our Whittie of the Week at a team dinner last Friday.

Post doubles final handshake
I must also mention that the team openly acknowledged the outstanding performances of both Morgan and Courtney.  First, in getting to the point of playing each other in singles AND doubles! and then in having good matches where they both left it all on the court.  Congrats to the Lawless twins.

Emily and John assessing the matches
Maddy comes through with some encouragement from Jenna
And last but absolutely far from least, I must say that I did not allow the team to vote for Emily, though her coaching debut could not have gone better.  She was a calming and focusing influence to so many players, all while running the Bratton tournament desk.  Awesome job Em.

Thanks to Greg Lehman and Sandy Seaman for photos, I have a ton of awesome ones to post and on my to do list is get them up on flickr soon!