Women’s Tennis Plays Last Home Game

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Junior Jessy Mekpoh hits a return shot as the Women’s Tennis team wraps up the season. Photo Courtesy of the USF Athletics Department

After almost two weeks without a game, my team and I were supposed to play against University of Northridge – from Los Angeles – last Sunday for our last home game of the season, and the senior day of Jenni Heinser.

This was not the best date for a game and a senior day as it was Easter, and most of our fans were celebrating it with their family; in addition to that, the weather was awful, rainy and windy, so the coaches from both teams decided to cancel the game.

At first, we thought that we would not play at all against Northridge for they had two Conference matches on Tuesday and Wednesday, and they wanted to have a day off before these two important games to be ready and efficient. However, coach Hilary Somers did her best in order for Heinser to have her senior day, and convinced the coach from Northridge to postpone the game on Monday, even though it was not an official game as we only played doubles and one set of singles.

On Monday morning, the weather was sunny even though there were some dark and threatening clouds coming from the North. The forecast was rather pessimistic and announced rain around 2 pm, while our game was scheduled at noon. It actually started raining around 8:45 for about an hour.

As it was an unofficial game, we left the university at 11:45 am, taking only one of the water coolers, and our trainer Ron Shinault did not come with us in case someone was injured. When we arrived at the Golden Gate Park, my teammates warmed up directly with their doubles opponents for about 15 minutes.

Before we started the doubles, coach Somers reminded us that we had to be prepared in our mind to play with the same focus as if we were playing an official match, because it had been a while since we haven’t played but we still had to think about the season and the West Coast Conference.

Even in such circumstances, Heinser had a little ceremony in which coach Somers talked about how such a good player she was for the team – tennis wise as well as at school with a 3.9 GPA. The director for Academics from the Athletic Department – Brenda Giarratano – was there to celebrate my teammate and gave her a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

The first two doubles pairs – Melinda Akerbrant-Jenni Heinser and Cecilia Gratian-Julia Wartenburger – had a very slow start; blaming the fact that they had not had enough time to warm up properly. Even though they came back in their respective pro-set, it wasn’t enough to win against these solid opponents. We lost 8-5 in doubles #1 and in the tiebreaker in doubles #2 (8-7(3)). The pair Yurie Hashigutchi-Alana McMahon played very well from the beginning till 6-3; then they lost their focus, committed more mistakes and lost also in the tiebreaker (8-7(4)).

Unlike for the doubles, everyone came on the court very focused for the singles and most of us won very easily. Heinser (#1), Wartenburger (#2), Gratian (#3), Hashigutchi (#6) and myself (#7) all won 6/0, while Akerbrant (#4) won 6/3. Only McMahon (#5) had a tough match even though she played well; she lost 6/4.

Even though it was an unofficial game, it was still our first competitive game in two weeks, and our team had not only played well, we also showed a good level of concentration. This game was very important for raising the team confidence before the upcoming weekend which will be tough, as we will be playing two conference matches against Loyola Marymount University and Pepperdine on their respective home courts.

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