Women’s Tennis serves on court, in community

Francesca+Canjar

Francesca Canjar

Photo by Kate Nuelle

As Trinity prepared to face Division II squad St. Edward’s University in their first home match of the season on Feb. 8, Mother Nature decided to throw a wrench in their plans. Cold and misty, the weather made the courts too slick to play on, causing a two-and-a-half-hour weather delay.

At 12:30 p.m. when the teams finally stepped out onto the court, roughly 50 spectators settled into the stands to watch the match. With games on four different courts at once, there was always something to see.

St. Edward’s ultimately won the match 7–0, beating the Tigers in every singles pairing and all but one doubles match. Seniors Mary and Zoe Kaffen won their doubles match, securing the only individual Tiger victory, but because St. Edwards won two of three doubles matches, they carried the doubles point.

According to first-year Nicole Markiewicz, while the team’s overall performance was good, the gameplay was negatively impacted by the weather.

“[The weather delay] made our players more tired and sluggish on the court, but we still prevailed and played the best tennis we could,” Markiewicz said.

As the weather cleared up, so did things for the Tigers. Trinity won their match against the University of St. Thomas, a Division III school, later in the day 8–1. The Kaffen twins won their second doubles match of the day, while other doubles teams made up of sophomore Megan Flores and junior Paulina Garcia, as well as seniors Francesca Canjar and Ashley DeBauge, won their respective matches. The team saw similar success in singles, winning five of the six overall matches.

The match against St. Thomas marked the team’s first Division III match of the season, and the first step toward the team’s goal of making it to Nationals and eventually the Elite Eight. According to senior team captain Zoe Kaffen, the team is very focused on achieving their season goal and has created a plan to help them accomplish it.

“We had a retreat in New Braunfels, I think the weekend we got back from Christmas break, and we all just kind of sat down and planned out a way for this season, how we’re going to get better every day in order to make it to Nationals and make it to the Elite Eight,” Kaffen said. “We do morning practices now. We’re committed to lifting, running, all that stuff. Our practices have really stepped up, and that’s what we’ve been doing. Right now, it’s been hard because of the injuries and illnesses, but once that’s taken care of we’ll be right back on track.”

According to Women’s Tennis head coach Gretchen Rush, the Tigers are putting their money where their mouth is.

“Our goal is to make the final eight, and this team is very committed to that. I’ve had other teams that have said that they want that, and of course, everybody wants to do that, but this team is putting in the work. They’re getting up at 6:15 in the morning, twice a week. They’re in the weight room twice a week. They’re committed. That level of commitment is the strongest I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Rush said.

In addition to this weekend being the first step on the road to Nationals, the women’s tennis team hosted the TU Smashers Kids Club, which offers free tennis lessons and pizza to kids aged five through 13 before home matches. The women’s team, with some help from LeeRoy, gave out tennis posters to about 10 kids. In turn, the kids and LeeRoy helped the team get ready for the game by doing part of the warm-up with them.

According to Rush, the program serves to both bring in new fans and serve the community.

“This is our third year, could be the fourth year. It’s basically trying to get people from the community to come out and support tennis. We’ve done a couple clinics out in the community and the team has volunteered in the community in Special Olympics and Kinetic Kids. It’s just an opportunity to give back a little bit, and we’d like to have some fans in our stands. Somebody taught our girls how to play, so we’ve got to give back,” Rush said.

Other community programs sponsored by Trinity Women’s Tennis are the Rebounce Tennis Ball Recycling program, which started as a pilot last year and is still not completely off the ground, and Taco Tuesday, where the first 50 people to show up to a designated home match get free tacos. Taco Tuesday is currently scheduled for March 24 when the women’s tennis team has a double-header against the University Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Wellesley College.