Thursday, January 29, 2009

And the season comes to an end...

So we were off to SUNYACs! It was a grueling three hour ride to the indoor tennis courts where we were playing all the other SUNY teams.  The top players of our team crammed into a 15-person van and chit chatted to amuse ourselves.  The best part about SUNYACs is that we get to stay over night in a hotel, and that is always a big hit! 

Although this years SUNYACs was not very successful in wins, I do feel like our team played to our best ability.  Every girl gave her all in the matches, but we just got unlucky with some of our match-ups against other teams.  

We all kept up our spirits after our losses! After the matches would be done for the day we would go out for a great dinner and spend the night relaxing in the hot tub.  The most valuable part of my team is that we know how to enjoy each others' company and have a blast.  It just goes to show that the winning team doesn't always have to be the one that has the most fun. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I let my racquet do the talking...

It was the last match of the season.  The next week we would be heading off to Syracuse for our tournament, SUNYACs, against all the SUNY schools.  We did not have the best winning record and wanted to finish this season with a win.  The match was against Plattsburgh and all of our friends and family had come to cheer us on.

Our team joined in a circle holding hands, like we did before every match, and coach gave us an inspirational speech.  The girls then presented all the seniors, me included, with a rose and a speech.  It was such a special moment to look out at my team that had once been so divided and to see us as a family.  

After a few tears had been shed, we were all pumped up to win.  I had a gut wrenching match against a young sophomore from Plattsburgh.  I knew I had to win this match for my team and for myself.  The first set went by like a breeze and I won it 6-0.  I was confident and cocky, and did not expect my opponent to change her game. 

When I headed back onto the court for my second set, my opponent had changed up her game.  Soon she was running all over the court, and getting every ball I hit over the net that I thought was a winner.  It was frustrating and difficult to maintain my concentration.  Luckily, I was able to keep up my intensity and won that set in a tie breaker.  

The other senior girls all won as well and the team ended up with a win.  The day was a success and I had never been so proud of the girls!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Giving back to the Community

Being on a tennis team isn't just about what you do on the court but what you do off of it as well. Our team strongly values giving back to the community with service to others.  One of the first events I encouraged the girls to get involved in was the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention walk.  

The campus was sponsoring the event and in previous years I had helped form a group to walk from our tennis team.  This past year I really wanted to get more people involved.  I organized a group called FSU athletes, in which all the athletes in Fredonia could walk together to raise money to prevent suicide.  It was rewarding to be able to have my team work together with all the other athletic teams on campus to help raise money for this cause.  

Later in the semester we all got together to help the women at the WCA assisted living home with writing their Christmas cards.  Coach always dresses up in a Santa hat and we all sat down to enjoy hot chocolate, cookies, and holiday music.  We really got a kick out of all the stories these women had about their lives.  For the past few years, I have helped a woman named Trixie with her cards.  Trixie is 100 years old and the spunkiest woman I have ever met.  The team shared so many laughs at this event and we really learned to be patient and understanding of others.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

There is no 'I' in team

So the first week of practice began.  Let me tell you, that first day was so awkward! There were eight new girls trying out for the team.  We all acted so shy, and I immediately knew we needed an ice breaker.  

The next day, I brought in a bag full of different kinds of candy.  Attached to each piece of candy was a slip of paper with a question on it.  For instance, a Tootsie Roll had the the question, "Tell us three things you did this summer".  I had each girl pick three different kinds of candies.  We went around the circle and each girl had to share their answers. Within minutes we were all laughing and sharing stories.  I could immediately feel that awkwardness drifting away.  I learned so much about each girl in just a few short minutes.  

That second day of practice was a blast! We were all joking around and enjoying each other's company.  After practice ended, I arranged for us all to go on a hike.  We split the girls up into two cars.  Of course, me being the whiz I am at directions, got us lost!  We drove around for about an hour, but we did it with lots of laughs and  sing-a-longs to songs on my iPod. 

We finally arrived about an hour later than expected.  This hike turned out to be one of the best experiences.  Not only did we get some additional exercise, but we had to work as a team.  At one point, to get down to a waterfall, we had to use ropes to climb down.  Now, I know this was not a good idea because someone could have hurt themselves before the season, but the waterfalls are just so beautiful! So I encouraged the girls to work together and to help each other down the ropes.  The girls were all thrilled with the sight of the falls.  Trust me we took advantage of photo opts (later to be used for a gift for coach!).  

The team still talks about this first week and how much fun we had.  These early experiences really brought us together and was the foundation for our friendships that formed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm taking you to the courts...

Tennis, an individual sport? Wrong!  Success in tennis comes from the support of others. I have never found so much encouragement and love from a team than I did this season on the Fredonia State tennis team.

Team bonding is so rewarding and beneficial. Without the support from my teammates throughout the year, I don't know how I would have survived the tennis season.  

Going into my tennis season this fall, I knew I had a lot to accomplish before we could call each other a team. From the previous year, our team had lost six of our starting players and we were getting several new girls.  Being the senior and the captain, I knew the first few weeks of practice would be key in creating a team atmosphere.  

Luckily, Fredonia finally acknowledged tennis a little. For the first time, the athletic department gave our team money to come a few weeks early to practice.  I felt so excited that I was granted a few extra weeks to not only improve my tennis play, but to get to know these new girls that would become my teammates.

Those first few weeks of my season and the ones that followed were some of the most valuable times of my life.  Watch as I continue to share my experiences with team bonding as well as the ups and downs of the tennis season this year.