Written by Lexi Baysinger. Media by Steven Potter.
March 9th to April 26th. That’s the length of our women’s tennis season. In just over a month 10 girls came together and formed a small family, alongside our tennis matches. While that month may seem short to outsiders, to those of us on the team, it feels a lot longer.
We spend a lot of our time together. From spring break in Hilton Head, to weekend trips, and just the hours we spend at practice, we have a lot of time to get to know each other. After all that time, our team becomes a small family. So when season ends and we realize that we may not see each other every day, it can be an emotional time.
The season was one of ups and downs. It started off with our trip to Hilton Head, SC. It was some tough competition down there, and while we got to spend time just hanging out on the beach, we were focused when we hit the court. Our team bonded over that week, and I think that it’s that week that allowed us to stick together as a team, despite tennis not being a team that’s completely focused on the team aspect. That bond continued to grow stronger when we returned to Southern Illinois to begin our regular season. As we began to face off against the teams in our conference, and some exhibition matches, it showed that our time playing against the tough teams at Hilton Head paid off. We found ourselves winning the matches in conference play, and we finished out our season with a winning record of six wins and one loss. That loss was against SLIAC giant, Principia College. It was our team goal to make it to the championship match in the conference tournament, and we had put ourselves in a great position to do that.
When we arrived in St. Louis to start off the conference tournament, coach Pam Craig reminded us that we were a much better team than we gave ourselves credit for. It was a good reminder because our team didn’t have complete confidence to live up to the expectations for us. Our first match was against Westminster College, a school we had previously beaten 5-4. The team was nervous to play them again, but we ended up winning again 5-4. We would face Principia College for the championship. For a moment, we cheered, knowing that we had accomplished our goal. No matter what would happen that next day, we could be happy knowing that we had defended our seed at the least. We lost to Principia in that match, but the team was still happy because we had kept 2nd place. In the end of conference celebration after the completion of the tournament, we found out that we had won the Sportsmanship Award for another year. That meant a lot to the team.
Despite the loss to Principia, the team had a great year. Our team weathered a lot of storms that junior colleges threw at us. We stayed true to our teammates, there was little drama, and I think that everyone on the team gained friendships that would outlast the season. With so many sports it’s easy to get lost in the competition, but I think that on the Greenville College women’s tennis team, we can look past that and just enjoy each other’s company as we play a sport that we all love to play.