The men’s and women’s tennis teams are just a few days away from finishing off a successful season at the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship in North Little Rock, Ark. April 22-24.
The No. 17 women’s team set themselves up for the end of the season by dominating Wheaton College 8-1 on Saturday. It was Wheaton’s second defeat of the entire season and improved the Tigers’ record to 10-8. The victory came on the back of a tough defeat the previous weekend, just in time for the big weekend ahead.
The men’s team was less successful but can take heart from their excellent season record. On Saturday they lost 8-1 to Vincennes University and 5-3 to Southern Indiana University but still have fifteen wins and a mere five losses all season.
Freshman Sam Miles rescued the consolation point against Vincennes by bouncing back from a 1-6 loss in the first set to win 7-5 and 7-6 in the second and third sets. He was unable to be reached for comment by deadline.
The matches against Southern Indiana started with three wins in singles action for DePauw’s opponents, but the Tigers rallied and came back to win two singles and a double. In the end it was too little, too late but showed promise for the upcoming championship.
With the regular season now in the past, the team is firmly focused on preparation for the weekend. The women are especially focused on getting in the right state of mind to handle the pressure of a conference championship.
“We are really attempting to be mentally tough. We know that we have the physical capabilities of winning, we just need to focus on believing that and staying focused in our matches,” said senior Tricia Wilks.
Younger members of the tennis team will be looking to Wilks and other seniors who are veterans of these high-pressure matches.
“Our season has been culminating to this weekend. I am not really sure what to expect, but I just hope I can learn from the upperclassmen who have been before and go out and perform our best as a team,” said freshman Meg Crowley.
Many players find music motivational before a big game and Crowley shared that the women’s team will “rock-out, rock-out to our DePauw Ligers’ playlist” to get mentally prepared on the way to Arkansas.
Wilks is excited to be playing in her last championship but described it as “bittersweet.” She spoke fondly of the lessons her college tennis career has taught her.
“Tennis has forced me to realize the importance of priorities,” she said. “There are countless times over the past four years I have had to make sacrifices for tennis, however realizing that I have prioritized tennis in my life taught me how not to dwell on sacrifices because they are being made for something more important.”
All of their sacrifices, all of their preparation, and all of their growth as a team has led to this conference championship.