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ISSUE 116 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 5/2/2003

Women stay focused to claim fifth

By Joe Midthun
Contributing Writer

Friday, May 2, 2003

As spring turns to summer, St Olaf is filled with an air of excitement.

Summer is just around the corner and with just one bump: finals after which students are preparing for many new and exciting opportunities. Summer brings vacation and relaxation for underclassmen, but for seniors summer only means that things start to get stressful.

Athletes and especially seniors tend to lose focus toward the end of the year, but not this years’ Ole women’s tennis team. Heading into the MIAC championships the women were in a fifth place tie with St. Benedict's and called upon all of their focus and determination to finish the season on a high note.

Although Friday brought some tough losses, the women rallied around strong senior leadership to win all but one match on Saturday.

This year’s women’s tennis season has been a good one. They finished in seventh place last year and had hopes to improve this season. The year started off very well, but the team then went on a tough losing streak. The girls rallied and won four of five meets in the heart of the season.

The last two matches of the season were tough ones for the Oles. Not only did they have to face a tough cross-town rival in Carleton, but they also had to play 12-time defending champion Gustavus. The Oles lost both matches and dropped into a tie for fifth place heading into the MIAC.

The year end tournament was held at Gustavus on Friday April 25 and Saturday April 26. Friday the girls were pitted against the fourth seeded Wildcats of the St. Kate’s.

The matches were all close, but the women were unable to win any of them. The Oles had lost their third consecutive match and were headed to the consolation bracket. It was the perfect time to give up, quit, go home and study for the MCAT’s, but the Ole women didn’t want to come home, not yet.

The best they could do was fifth, so fifth became the goal. Maybe to some fifth is not good enough, but to a team that finished seventh last year and felt they were better now than a year ago, fifth was a good goal to strive for.

The girls would need to win both their matches on Saturday. However, the day started off all wrong. The women faced St. Mary’s and fell behind early in two of the three doubles matches, but kept their composure and rallied to win all three matches.

Again they could have quit, but they didn’t. They then won all six singles matches to move into the consolation championship match against the Concordia Cobbers.

The Oles beat the Cobbers 8-1 earlier this year and knowing they could win helped them finish the season with a “W”. The match was all Oles all the way. Coach Scott Nesbit puts it best in saying, “(They) continued their excellent play and won two of the three doubles and all six of the singles again.”

So the Oles returned to studying and finals, but this year they came home in fifth place instead of seventh. Coach Nesbit was very happy with the season.

“The St. Olaf women's tennis team had a very good 2003 season,” Nesbit said. They improved two places in conference (and) defeated three conference teams that had beat them last year.”

The season was a success in no small part because of excellent senior leadership in Janelle Sagness, the captain, Jennifer Ison and Yvonne Yang.

The underclassmen also showed they could help the team, including good play at second singles from Beth Erie ‘05. Although the season is over, the Oles will play the annual alumni match on Saturday May 10 at 1:00pm.

At 6-4 in the MIAC and 9-7 overall the Oles finished the season above the .500 mark.

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