Women’s tennis reflects on season’s challenges, lessons

Courtesy of Lewis and Clark
Courtesy of Lewis and Clark

As autumn continues to march on and the trees are missing more leaves every day, fall sports are drawing to a close. The Women’s Tennis team has served up quite a few accomplishments for the first half of their sports season.

Jimmy Chau, coach of Men’s and Women’s Tennis at Lewis & Clark, has worked for the Athletics department since 2004. In his tenure with the college, he has seen many athletes come and go, and knows how to take a season’s progress in stride.

“The first tournament, we knocked off a lot of rust,” said Chau. “I think all the players would agree to that. But then we really showed up well in the second tournament. The ITA set we played had some good results.”

The season began with the Pacific 5-Way Tournament at Pacific University in late September, where six players earned victories. The second and final tournament of the season was the 2023 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northwest Women’s Tournament, where three players earned consolation titles.

Consolation titles are the secondary draws of a tennis tournament, and with multiple players making semifinals but not the main draw of the tournament, other coaches may have been disappointed in a team’s showing—but not Coach Chau.

“There are a lot of different opportunities for different players at different levels to compete against players at similar levels,” said Chau. “And so it just makes for better competition and a better experience for everybody. And it is never a perfect thing, but we tried our best to get players in the right brackets.”

The Women’s Tennis team has experienced some changes in the past season. Their usual roster has been dramatically impacted by study abroad, leaving them with fewer players than normal. Student leadership has also seen Hayley Kreps ’25 stepping up for the team.

“One thing I am proud of the team for this semester is that everyone is really dedicated to improving their own tennis abilities and the level of the team as a whole,” said Kreps. “In past years, we would practice three times a week and lift twice a week during the off season, but this year we have been practicing five times a week, by practicing after each lift. It seems like everyone is really motivated to work hard so that we can do well in the upcoming season this spring.”

Coaching staff are pleased by how the athletes are showing up and serving balls.

“(The players) have been super impressive this semester,” said Chau. “Probably the most impressive since I have been here in terms of holding themselves accountable and training extra and doing all the right things when the coach is not around. I could not be more happy.”

Being a college athlete has a lot to do with personal drive, accountability and responsibility. With their

increased schedule, and more one- on-one coaching time due to their teammates being abroad, LC Women’s Tennis put in the work to make the most of the season.

“I think (what) college athletes require to succeed is time management,” said Kreps. “Especially due to the amount of time you spend in the classroom and practicing. It is a big time commitment to be on a college team and it is an important skill to learn how to balance this with managing homework and other educational responsibilities.”

And while their coaching staff is there for them, student athletes on the team are responsible for holding themselves to a standard.

“I try to let the student athletes dictate how their experience unfolds,” said Chau. “Obviously, I am there to guide them, but a lot of it is driven by them and their passion and desires. And Haley has been awesome in terms of managing that and trying to get everybody on the same page.”

Coaches have a unique vantage point into the life of a student athlete, and they take their roles seriously.

“The standards get higher every year,” said Chau. “Student athletes want to do more, both academically and athletically … in my role as a coach, it is less about the X’s and

O’s or the techniques of tennis, as opposed to more helping them manage, and balance things, staying mentally healthy as well as physically and socially.”

Going into spring semester, the LC Women’s Tennis team has both room to grow and accomplishments to be proud of.

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