Elianna Kantar - April 28, 2011
As a freshman this entire year has been a constant flow of new experiences. From 5 hour car drives in order to reach the opposing schools to playing Jenga in restaurants where the waiters look a little too nervous about the fact we're actually playing Jenga, I thought I had experienced everything being a freshman had to offer. But there has been nothing this year quite like this past weekend. The Gophers went 2-0 this weekend, defeating the Illinois Illini 4-3 and the Iowa Hawkeyes 6-1. From the moment the girls stepped on court for doubles Friday night every member of our team was riding a wave of energy that ended long after we beat Iowa Sunday afternoon. Illinois and Iowa didn't have a chance to defend themselves against the energy and the competitiveness that the Gophers brought on and off court with them this weekend; from the first ball hit during the warm up you could see there was a fire inside every girl on the team. All in all tennis wise it was an incredible weekend.
Aside from the exciting moments on the tennis court there were two other major parts of the weekend. The first is that this was Easter weekend, which made most of the girls on the team extremely happy. My favorite parts of this were watching Emilie Renault walk up on court Sunday to watch the match with her pockets overflowing with candy she hasn't been able to eat in 40 days and seeing the waiter at Annie's bring Yuliana Umanets her order of a malt AND a sundae. I have never seen eating sweets so appreciated.
Last, but definitely not least, we said goodbye to our seniors in their final home match Sunday. Senior Day was a major success with all three seniors winning each match they played and a beautiful ceremony run by our coach Tyler. I could not have hoped for better seniors than Peta Forsyth, Mariana Spilca, and Alessandra Ferrazzi. Each of them was so welcoming and so supportive from the moment I arrived. I can't imagine not having them on the team next year; they've all become such important members of the team. I want to wish all three of them the best of luck in the future and success with whatever they choose- they all deserve it. Thank you for everything girls and, believe me, you will all be missed!!
One more thing: GOOD LUCK to all the girls traveling to the Big Ten Tournament this week! Everyone at the tournament better watch out for the Gophers! And to everyone that has come out to matches to support the team: THANK YOU!!!! This past weekend could not have been such a success without the incredible crowd watching and cheering for us!
Yuliana Umanets - April 20, 2011
We played our first match against Penn State on Friday evening. We all missed Amy and Ellie who stayed at home. This match was very close, but I think that we showed our best that evening. We were confident, well prepared and showed a great fight. After the match we drove halfway to Ohio and stopped at a hotel. We were very tired after a long day, so when we arrived everybody went to sleep.
We spent the second half of Saturday driving to Ohio. When we arrived we went to dinner and after the meal, some of us went to the movie and some went to the hotel to relax or study. The next morning we played Ohio State. I think that all of us learned a lot after this match. The most important that we learned was never give up, no matter what is the score. Fight for yourself and for people who surround you, your teammates who became your new family here.
During the trip we played a new game, which was called "Wits and Wages," a game where you need to guess the answer for a lot of different interesting questions. I guess that Magda, Peta and myself broke the world record in this game, by winning more than 400 chips!
Magdalena Wiecha - April 13, 2011
Everyone loves winning. This is especially true for a group of girls who have been playing tennis competitively for a large part of their lives. However last weekend when our team lost both matches, we acknowledged that there was nothing more we could do about the score and that we must move forward. The most important thing for us right now during the season is learn from this experience and apply these things to our process of improving as a team.
Our time in college and being part of the women's tennis team is something special and I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of it. As a tennis player prior to college, I had a very narrow-minded perception about playing tennis. Winning and losing were the only two things in my head. They were the only two things which mattered to me. If I won I was happy. If I lost, I was very upset. My decision to come to college in the United States and to choose the University of Minnesota changed my perspective on this, and turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
Our coach, Tyler Thomson, always emphasizes the importance of the educational purpose of college sport. I am a junior and have been on this team for almost three years. During this time I have gained so much more knowledge as a tennis player, but most importantly, I have discovered more about myself as a person. My satisfaction with myself does not come from my win-loss record. Very often this record can be an illusion because of easier scheduled matches or level of opponents. As Vince Lombardi said "The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." Our satisfaction comes from the effort which we put in during practice and matches. It is important to be able to look at the mirror at the night and be able to say to ourselves that we are satisfied with our effort and took every chance today to improve as a tennis player and person.
Our time in college and on our team is very important for us as young women because it is likely to impact our future lives. The things that we can control should be the things that we focus on most. As long as we are excellent in those things we don't need to worry about the result, because that will come. To achieve success and satisfaction as a tennis player and to feel good about ourselves, we need engage in the process of improvement, which can be hard and sometimes uncomfortable. As I explained earlier, we grew up only caring about winning and losing so it requires a change in mindset to see this new perspective. But after three years of being in this team and being immersed in this process (which hasn't always been easy for me), I am realizing that it is worth it and I am extremely excited to continue on this path for the rest of this season and for my senior year.
Finally, I want to mention my teammates and thank them for always being there for me. I am a part of a great group of young women. Already after three years of being in the team, I have formed amazing and lifelong friendships. Of course, not every single one of us will be best friends for life but what will make us stronger is having respect and building trust for each other. As basketball player and Olympian Deborah Miller-Palmore said, "Even when you've played the game of your life, it's the feeling of teamwork that you'll remember. You'll forget the plays, the shots, and the scores, but you'll never forget your teammates."
Natallia Pintusava - April 8, 2011
What is the formula that allows being successful as a team? Can you tell without any doubts whether a team will win or lose a match?
I'm not able to answer either of these questions; but there are things I was taught in Gopher tennis team which make me believe that any team can achieve a great performance. First of all, now I believe that every match, no matter how it goes, could be turned at any moment before the last point is played. The comebacks of Gopher team I saw during this spring were unforgettable; the fight players showed pumped me up and proved again and again that I love tennis, I love being a competitor, and I love the fight I'm going through as a part of the team.
Secondly, I was told many times that tennis is not the fight of shots and amazing strokes, but it is the fight of attitudes. Coach Thomson always reminds the team that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Thus, the most important thing when the match is going on is not to pay attention for things you cannot change, but be able to manage the things under your control.
Lastly, I believe that successful team is the team which is characterized by togetherness. From my perspective, togetherness means being mentally connected; and, believe me, this kind of connection has a great impact not only on a team achievements, but also on every single player.
All these beliefs I have took a place during our weekend matches against Michigan University on Saturday and Michigan State University on Sunday. Both matches were planned to be played inside, but on Monday every team member received an email which said to be mentally prepared to play outside. And we were, but on Saturday the match against the Wolverines began inside. Honestly, everybody was somewhat happy that the match was playing inside. However, in terms of having people sick and injured, the team didn't have its regular lineup and changes were made. Thus, for example, doubles were very unusual which might have caused some misunderstandings between partners, and as a result, all three doubles lost. Then, we didn't have our full lineup, and absence of mature competitors Magdalena Wiecha, Alexa Palen, and Uliana Umanets played not a good role for our team performance. Despite all these facts, every player did her best on the court and put as much efforts to perform better as she could. Just like Tyler says, "We cannot change inevitable. The only thing we can control is our attitude." And, I think, nobody could say that we didn't want to win or we didn't compete hard.
Sunday morning the team started by having breakfast at 8.15 a.m. at Bruegger's Bagel Bakery. The weather was nice and the girls were in a good mood. Everything seemed to be ok, and we were excited to finally have our full lineup. Nothing was expected to be changed. However, 20 minutes before the warm-up our head coach came to us and said that we were playing outside. Can you imagine the situation when everything is going according to your expectations and then, suddenly, it is changed? I bet you experienced it not once and, of course, it's not the best experience. Many thoughts were going through the player's minds. However, after adding many layers of clothes, the team headed to the outside courts.
As usual, after warm up we have team gathering. On Sunday, as every time, we met in the players' lounge, but it wasn't an ordinary meeting. It might be just my perspective, but the regular pre-match speech of coach Thomson was felt to be unregularly full of emotions and strength. The main point Tyler brought into the team was reflected in Pete Sampras's words, "The most important guy you have to beat is yourself - the part of you that's prone to doubt, fear, hesitation, and the impulse to give up."
The match against MSU started with losing an important point in doubles. Thus, to win the whole match Gophers should have won 4 singles. Sometimes, it might seem unreal, but Sunday wasn't the day of impossibilities, especially when our team had its full lineup.
Unfortunately, I don't really know how the matches proceeded, but I know what was going through my mind while I was playing. I won't describe all my feelings, but somewhat, when I was left the one who was playing, I knew that the overall score was 3-3 and the whole match depended on my playing. The brightest moment I want to share with you occurred at score 5:6 in the second set (1st set I lost 6:3). I was a receiver. You know, it is very funny, but I try to remember about what I was thinking about and I cannot. I just remember that amazing atmosphere when our fans came together and cheered for me. I remember after every point I won this wave of applauds made me think, "C'mon, Natasha! You can do it. You should do it. It's under your control." It's a wonderful feeling, and, now, I know I can donate many things just to go through this feeling again and again. What a rush of adrenaline... Anyways, I know that without my teammates support and without spectators cheering I would not have been able to make that mental come back. THANK YOU! THANK YOU FOR BEING THERE!
As you know, the Gophers won their match against MSU on Sunday. It was an important victory, and it was twice important that we were able to go through the whole difficulties and to show the real fight. We love playing at home and we love showing our competitiveness to the people who come to our matches. Team competitions are not about only tennis, but also about being together, being one power. Thus, everybody is counted and every support is needed.
Emilie Renault - March 24, 2011
There's no place like home, but we were more than happy not to be in Minnesnowta anymore. This seemed to be the general consensus of virtually every member of our team this spring break, along with our one mission: working hard while having fun and also relishing in the fact that we were in places where the temperature was above freezing and the use of winter jackets was not permissible.
Whenever our team gets the opportunity to travel, we take pride in putting on our Minnesota apparel and hauling all of our equipment and bags through airports, hotels and wherever else we may be going. Rather not surprisingly, once in a while we run into the occasional stranger brave enough to attempt to guess what kind of sports team we are and trust me when I say, we've heard them all. So, we thought it would be humorous to keep a tally of all the guesses we've had over spring break and I would like to share with you the breakdown:
- Volleyball (1)
- Basketball (2)
- Soccer (1)
- Track (2)
- Field hockey (2)
- Softball (1)
- Tennis (2)
- And my personal favorite... A large family reunion (1)
Now, our first stop along the way was the very interesting state of Missouri. It all started with our coach, Tyler, having to barter with the parking ramp supervisor about the price of the ticket fee-something that most of us believed to be non-negotiable, but apparently not in Missouri. In the end, it was lowered from a grand total of $2.50 per car, to only $1. Whenever we travel, Coach Thomson gives us the opportunity to complete a challenging task at practice with the reward being a treat at some point during the trip. This week's challenge was to knock a cone off of his head. Of course, everyone's first reaction was some shock mixed with uneasy feelings of accidently smoking him with a tennis ball. Most tried half-heartedly the first time around, aiming nowhere near the target except for brave freshman Elianna Kantar, who took no mercy and nailed him square in the back. Every challenge has a purpose, and this one was a game of trust: Coach trusts in each of our abilities enough to allow us to aim balls at his head and in return it required trust in our own abilities to hit the target spot on without fear. Round two proved to be successful and we were promised a treat, but more importantly we learned a valuable lesson that it is important to trust in yourself when faced with difficult situations because trust is required in conquering feats and overcoming fear.
Our team has been having issues with consistency on court-with support, fight, and heart-and it was (and still is) one of our biggest focuses. We played a tremendous match against Mizzou; one that we could all be proud of. Every single player on and off court showed incredible heart and fight. We lost and of course it stung, but everyone battled hard and we left feeling proud to be Gophers. That match marked just the beginning of a consecutive and consistent string of matches during our spring break.
North Carolina was the next destination scheduled and we were welcomed with warmth and sand. We played outside for the first time since November and it was time to shake off all of the outdoor playing cobwebs. During our match against University of North Caroline at Wilmington, the weather was absolutely perfect to play tennis, not super hot, but warm enough with a slight breeze. However, in these instances, do not be fooled by the sun-it can still be painfully cruel, even for those just in supporting roles from the sidelines. For all of you non-sunscreen believers out there, just ask Freshman Natasha Pintusava who learned firsthand the harsh effects of not wearing sunscreen even in the most mild of weather conditions. She was such a good sport about it though that after this incident, she even volunteered to be a part of a short video clip advocating sun protection and using herself as a warning for next year's round of freshmen.
(As a side note, for those who don't know, One Tree Hill is a television series that has been going one for about eight years now and is actually filmed in the city of Wilmington. This was fantastic news for four of our team members, including myself, because we were able to visit a couple of the filming locations around town which ended up being a very memorable experience. So if you happen to be a fan of the show and you happen to find yourself in Wilmington, North Carolina with nothing to do, I recommend checking out One Tree Hill filming locations, and from what I've heard, there are even organized group tours.)
We took a mini road trip to Virginia and the GPS navigator was set to get us to our destination by taking the most direct route-which, little did we know, involved taking a ferry. It was definitely an unusual experience for everybody. We were very lucky to be staying in Virginia right in the heart of historical America including Colonial Williamsburg and the town of Jamestown, which happens to be the first permanent English settlement in the U.S. We had the privilege of visiting the church where many historical figures including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Tyler and others used to attend mass. It was a very surreal experience feeling as if we were in the presence of greatness and so much important history. We battled with the College of William and Mary in weather conditions I would associate with Minnesota. The doubles matches were just incredibly fun to watch and really demonstrated how far our understanding and development of the doubles' game has gone. The points were being extremely well developed with smart, yet aggressive, moves and an intensity that everyone, either playing or watching, could feel. This was the type of atmosphere, despite the frigid temperatures, that our team strives to reach every time we walk on court. This match didn't end up our way, but with every match we play, we come closer and closer to becoming a consistently great team with heart, fight, and support.
The last and final stop of our spring break was back in North Carolina in Chapel Hill where we played No. 3 North Carolina. We couldn't have ask for a more beautiful day-over 80°F with not a cloud in the sky, the kind of weather that instantly puts you in a good mood and subsequently a good mindset for a tennis match. Once again, everyone played their hearts out and showed terrific fight. Despite being such a high ranked team, doubles was close and there wasn't a moment we thought we were going to lose that doubles point. We knew singles was going to be a challenge going up against such a great team, but we went out there with every ounce of fight and heart possible. It was yet again another match to be proud of.
Even though technically our trip was over, there was still major unfinished business to do in the airport for team members Elianna Kantar and Mariana Spilca. These two were the Jenga consequence winners, or rather unfortunately the losers, who had two shenanigans to perform. Super Senior Mariana Spilca showed us once more with calm and grace how to handle the pressure of performing in a somewhat embarrassing and uncomfortable situation. This time, she had to go up to a stranger with a racket and few balls and ask them to warm her up for a match. Peta Forsyth caught all of the action on camera for future playbacks and good chuckles. Eliana was well prepared for her round of awkward discomfort as well. She was very professional in interviewing a stranger and asking him three questions pre-determined by the team. Examples of these questions included: "How do you feel about the hippopotamus obesity problem in Africa?" "Due to global warming, have you heard of the new plan to relocate all the penguins to the moon?" and lastly, "How do you feel about changing the state name of Pennsylvania to Piña Colada?"
I can honestly say that being a freshman on the team is no easy thing; you are constantly learning, observing, and being exposed to numerous amounts of new experiences, including spring break with the team. Spring break is one of the most memorable weeks of the year because it is a chance to play the sport that we all love while having fun and also feeling less stressed. For our team, this trip helped us prove that we can be a consistent team-we have unwavering support for each other, we fight for every ball, and play with heart no matter what. Results and score don't matter to us because in time, if we can continue to conquer our inconsistencies like we have been, everything else will fall into place and that is what matters most in the end: hard work and persistent effort. It is such an honor and a privilege to be able to represent this school, to wear maroon and gold, and to be a Gopher.
Alexa Palen - March 9, 2011
We are all unique individuals. We all have different personalities, different thoughts, different interests, and different habits; but one thing that has brought us all together is our love and desire for tennis. Our dedication and hard work has brought us to this place, together today. It is important to remember how we got here, why we are here, and keep those thoughts in our mind. Our team is a group of individuals, but we are all playing at the University of Minnesota, representing women's tennis because it's what we wanted in our hearts. Our passion for this game of tennis is so great that we have worked to be a part of something greater, something profound, something that continues to let our desire and heart as a tennis player flourish. One thing that it takes to be a great player is heart. I have no question that every individual on our team has extraordinary heart for the game. The emotions we express on the court, during practice, during training, etc. are all reflected and displayed because of the heart that we have and our desire to be the best we can be at all times. All of this seems pretty simple, right? Expressing our natural emotions that we have for the game doesn't seem like a big deal; however, to do it collectively as a team on a consistent basis was a challenge for us this past Friday. While we all have heart, we unfortunately forgot how to wear our heart on our sleeve and show our love for the competition through our visible attitudes and competitiveness this past Friday.
This past weekend we took on the Wisconsin Badgers. Each one of us was looking forward to this match with excitement and anxiousness. However, as we took court at 6 pm, something a little unexpected happened.
There is no doubt in my mind each one of us wanted so badly to whip the Badgers. However, as a team, we struggled. It was almost as if all of our emotions paralyzed us and we lost focus of the values we strive to adhere to everyday. We lost track of not only our values, but our competitive emotions as well. As I said earlier, our heart and passion for this game is usually so evident. However, Friday as we took the Badgers on during doubles, we didn't show our emotions and the heart that we know we all have. We were reserved and timid with our energy and it resulted to a quick and painful doubles sweep. As our team received feedback following doubles, we absorbed the information and went into singles with more emotions than ever. By the end of the night, it was Minnesota 1, Wisconsin 6. I can tell you now that it was not for a lack of effort that led to our downfall. Our team fell short Friday night because we were not as consistent and focused on our values like we needed to be. It was a night many of us will never forget, and a night I believe changed our team for the better. They say that opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves, comes when life seems most challenging; this was definitely a time where every Gopher tennis player looked within ourselves and really thought about the way we were, and the way we want to be. As hard as it was the rest of that Friday night and some of Saturday, I think we all found a greater strength within ourselves, within our team, and within our ability to compete.
Sunday we took on the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It was a new day and it was a good day! Every Gopher competing did an amazing job of showing her heart and passion for the game from start to finish. Sometimes it can be as easy as just enjoying the game with a clear mind, taking a second to remember why we started playing tennis in the first place, and just enjoy the opportunities that lie in our hands. Enjoy the fight, the battle, the learning and the game. In doing this, our passion and heart came out on the court much easier. We sometimes get caught up in hitting the ball this way or that way, following this rule or that rule, making sure we do 500 things right, that we forget the basic steps of: enjoyment, fight, and the simplicity of letting our heart and love shine. But mostly, letting ourselves just play.
This past Sunday, as we stood side by side at the BTC, we realized we are a heck of team that is capable of great measures; much greater measures than we showed on Friday evening. We may have taken a step back on Friday night, but we took a leap forward on Sunday. We are a greater team, a stronger team, and a team that realizes how lucky we are to not only be playing collegiate tennis, but to be representing the University of Minnesota. Our team can all agree that we are moving forward from this weekend with our heads held high and we must keep in mind that we all have the heart and passion- we just have to let it shine and enjoy it.
"A successful team beats with one heart."-Unknown.
Alessandra Ferrazzi - Feb. 23, 2011
Hello fans! This weekend was a little rough and intense for all of us. We had a couple of recruits coming in and two matches against BYU and North Carolina State.
Friday, in preparation of the match against BYU, the whole team got together for a short but fun activity before lunch. Our captain Mariana Spilca (alias Mama Bear) organized a drawing activity (she loves drawing) in which we should draw the person we admire the most and explain why. Also, considering the upcoming match we had to say one thing we appreciate about one of our teammates and what we would have liked them to do in the match in order to be successful as a team. There were a lot of things that we did not know about each other and we learned a lot of interesting things. We all had lunch together and afterward everybody took their time to get ready. Most of us got ready in the training room and got the treatment we needed to perform. At 6 p.m., after being warmed up, our match with BYU began. There were a lot of fans at Baseline and it was so nice to see them supporting us. I want to thank our fans for coming out. It is always nice having spectators that care about our team and cheer for us! It gets us more fired up! Our trainer Mia was there and she definitely did an amazing job encouraging us - looking forward to seeing you at our matches again! The match started well for us with a lot of good energy and good playing in doubles. We were able to win doubles point, and then we started playing singles.
The energy throughout the six courts was incredible. The team started singles very determined and focused, but this did not prevent us to be loud and supportive of each other as well. It was unbelievable the support coming from our teammates in the bleachers, there was not a moment of silence throughout the whole match. We were just unstoppable and won 6-1 against BYU. There was not a moment in any watch where someone could doubt our win. We were extremely confident and set with our mind to win that match. No matter what was happing we were ready to fight it.
After the match, we had our meeting with the coaches and some time to take care of some small injuries. The feedback we got was positive but we also knew we still have lots of room for improvement for our next matches.
We had dinner at Tony's Diner, since most of us were not in a mood for Mesa Pizza and I would say that some girls had a really good time. Most of them because Magda, who loves pancakes, could not get her dinner because the restaurant was out of pancake mix. It was very, very sad and disappointing. However, Mag had some of Ellie's pancakes, so that was not much of a hit. Also, the table I was not seated at had a very good time judging from the numerous laughs coming from it. Unfortunately I was not really able to understand why or what they were laughing about. Anyway, I am pretty sure one of the girls seated there will talk about in the next blog since now I am a little curious and you guys are probably feeling the same way. The day ended around 11:30, so after dinner, we headed home to get some rest and recover from the match.
What about the match on Sunday against North Carolina State? A lot to talk about, although there was a bitter taste left after the loss of that match. The day started well, with a well-appreciated breakfast at Purple Onion. For those who do not follow us very often, it is not a very common breakfast location. After that we slowly moved to BTC to get ready for warming up. Again, there was lots of treatment for most of us. By the way, Natasha almost looked like a mummy considering the amount of bandages she had on her. Luckily for us, it was enough for her to play. After our warm up routine, we had a short team meeting to remind us of our goals and then we went back upstairs to get ready for the match. Starting off with doubles, Spilcs and Mag had little problems to win their match but No. 1 and 2 were struggling a lot in trying to win. Little consistency in the game and lack of confidence in those two doubles caused us to lose the doubles point by a very close score.
All of us were upset and discouraged a bit, but after the meeting with the coaches we were back on the court and our goal was to win. Most of the matches were close and there were a lot of three-setters played. I won my match struggling a bit, 6-4, 7-5, and Nets did the same, 6-3, 6-4. Tash won her much in three sets, struggling a bit with the referee in the third set about some calls, but at the end she made it. At that point the match was tied 3-3. Doron was the only one left on the court in the third set after Mag and Lex lost in two tough sets.
Here we are, all of us standing on the line cheering like crazy to support D in her tough match. The spectators moved all on her court to follow the match more closely and aware of the importance of that moment. At every point won or lost people were screaming and yelling GO GOPHERS, GO D, or LET'S GO MINNESOTA. There was almost no silence, even when they were playing. On four-all, D called a forehand crosscourt close to the line out, but the referee overruled her! Everybody was astonished. Dasha stood up and stared talking to the referee for an explanation. The ball was clearly out, there was no question at all, but we lost that point, and with it the game as well. Little discouraged and mad D switched court and served to keep her game. Once again, playing with her forehand, the best shot she has, she played a winner crosscourt. However, the referee called the ball out! Ty was not happy at this point and talked to the referee. Two points in a row, it is a lot, one of them was even very important to decide who was up 5-4 and who was down. But what can you do? D was in a very though situation and a lot of pressure on her at that point of the match. Can you imagine yourself at that point? Pressure is on you, you know what you need to do to win the match, you also know you need to risk more than your opponent and in that case meant playing close to the lines to move her opponent around, build up the point and with patience choose the right ball to step in and finish the point, often with a volley or overhead or a tough shot. Then on top of that add in some difficult calls by the referee and your life on the court gets very complicated. Very few people can make it through that and unfortunately we could not make it. We lost to a team that was supposed to be better than us but we fought until the very end. And we also had the chance of winning that match.
In the meeting with the coaches I could see the huge opportunity we lost in everybody's face. But I thought that this is just the beginning of the season, we still have a lot of matches to play. If we keep working hard we will eventually face those situations again and we will definitely be able to deal with them in such a way to be successful. It is just a new beginning for us. We are not going to remember the two misjudged balls. There is nothing we can do about that anymore, so we should think about the future and how we are going to compete in the next matches. It is going to be all together, by supporting each other and fighting for every ball to the point we can't move anymore.
Doron Muravnik - Feb. 16, 2011
As Spilca said in the first week, TOUGH, is a word that we all say all the time. But this weekend, the "tough" got replaced by EXCITEMENT. We all were so excited for our first home match of the season. Playing at home is very different to travelling because for one reason the whole team is together before, during and after the match. This makes a huge difference and is an advantage that makes all of us feel even more confident and together. I'm sure that all four of our freshman could feel how different and great it is to play at home. As a sophomore, I was twice as excited for these first home matches compared to last year. It feels so good to play on our own courts in such an amazing facility, in front of our fans, friends and family. In addition, having our own locker room and familiar trainers to take care of us are big advantages. We don't need to use a GPS or to carry a travel bag around. We just show up at our familiar home courts and do our best.
With lots of excitement in the atmosphere all last week and weekend, we focused a lot on the identity of the team. We have decided that the basics of our identity are built on loyalty and support of one another. We can definitely see how important it is for the overall success of our team. With the effort, commitment and willingness of each member of this team to this, we are able to work on building and improving our identity for a successful season.
After a week of practice, Friday night finally arrived but we couldn't change our Friday record and we lost against the Sooners. However, we kept our undefeated Sunday record with a wonderful win against the Ducks. The Ducks were so upset from the loss that they even broke a racket on the court. The Gophers are very sorry for that poor racket.
As I said before, we played at home this weekend which meant no Jenga. But we still had a great team dinner on Friday night at Punch Pizza. We would like to thank them for the great dinner they provided.
This weekend is already over but we are all getting prepared for more exciting home matches next weekend. We will continue to work on improving our identity this week and doing our best to win. In order to prepare for this, we need to work hard to achieve our goals and trust that we will get the outcome we want if we do this.
Please come and support the Gophers next week. It's always so EXCITING to see you all sitting there and watching us. We really appreciate your presence at our matches and it is very helpful for us to have you there. Feel free to bring your friends and cheer as loud as you want for your lovely Gophers.
Hope to see you all next weekend,
Peta Forsyth - Feb. 9, 2011
I've spent 1119 days being a Golden Gopher. As my days left on the team become smaller, I've found myself thinking a lot more about all the experiences I've had since I began at Minnesota. One of these moments occurred on Sunday night as our team drove home from a weekend of away matches against Northwestern and Marquette. So on the long drive home, I took a break from my marathon One Tree Hill watching with Magda and took some time to reflect on more than just our 1-1 record from the weekend.
I've been a part of 79 dual matches, each bringing about different feelings and emotions. This weekend, the match against Marquette was yet another particularly memorable one. Despite our team getting an average of about four hours sleep the night before due to super bowl partiers making so much noise in the hotel, everyone entered the match with an unwavering intention to support the team. When it came down to the last match and more than four hhours of tennis having already been played, we all stood together as a team and cheered for our very own Mariana "Mama Bear" Spilca as she battled it out to secure the win. These moments when the last person on court determines the outcome of the match are definitely the most exciting, and being able to share such an experience with a team is truly special. Every season is filled with close matches just like this one. As tennis players, most of us grow up competing in tournaments where we play for ourselves. But becoming a college tennis player completely changes this because at the end of the day, individual success is not enough. We accomplish the most when everyone is working together and contributing equally to the team effort.
I've had 21 teammates over the course of my college career. Learning to succeed as one unit can present challenges at times, but being able to work with people who care as much about what they are doing as you do is what makes it so rewarding and worthwhile. Another cool aspect of my experience on the team is that my teammates have come from 9 different countries. Developing great friendships with such a unique group of people is amazing. Often travelling to matches with the team is a particularly opportune time to get to know more about each other. This trip, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Ales music taste (and dance moves to go with it), watching Tash giggling to her Russian comedy movies and listening to pump up music before the match with D. Unfortunately there was not the usual game of Jenga on this trip, however some of us started a game of telephone where we tried to send phrases around using our different native languages. I think it's fair to say we did quite poorly.
It's just four days until we commence our first match on our home courts for the season. While I love travelling with the team, there's nothing quite like playing at Baseline Tennis Center. I'm extra excited about it because my dad is flying in from Australia to be here to watch us play. Between now and then, you can be sure that we will all be working hard with each other in preparation and eagerly anticipating the arrival of Friday night's match. We hope to see you there.
Mariana Spilca - Jan. 27, 2011
Tough is a word that we like to use on the team here and there for special occurrences...ok maybe we just all say it all the time. Maybe even a little too much. We firmly believe that tough is a practical word that any individual should probably use to describe instances such as Elianna Kantar's racket flying out of her hand during practice. After you see this hilarious scene occur, one might just stand there and just say, "Tough." Other examples include, "The abs Mia (our fitness trainer) had us do this morning were tough," or "that team's outfit is kind of tough." Joking or not joking, funny or not so funny, it is important to really stress the T at the beginning of this very important word. So, it would be more like pronouncing this word as Tttuhf. We all believe (including the coaches) that TOUGH can be used if you literally mean it or not. Therefore, tough is the word I will use to describe this past weekend.
Ten things that were tough about our first trip of the spring season:
1. Waking up at 4:30am on Thursday for our 7am flight.
2. Leaving Ty's bag at the airport (player's fault) and realizing it approximately 40 miles later in the parking lot of McAlister's (sandwich place we had lunch-quite delightful).
3. Having the navigation app on my Samsung vibrant lead us to the "Hampton Inn Hotel" which ending up being a blue yet cozy home in the middle of nowhere. (At least some of us were able to experience something for the first time-seeing six deer grouped together in a front yard).
4. Having only five courts to play a dual match on (#6 singles had to wait for someone to finish and then go on).
5. Watching D and Magda tape all 876,357 blisters that formed on their feet from their new tennis shoes.
6. Losing to Marshall 3-4.
7. Missing El (Elianna Kantar) and Em (Emily Renault).
8. Trying to keep a straight face while Lex (Alexa Palen) was in the middle of her Jenga consequence-asking the waitress the following:
"I'm trying out this blue diet thing and I was wondering if you had anything blue I could eat on the menu? And if you don't, is there anyway you could please add some blue food coloring? How about anything purple?"
9. Coming up with a good nickname that Yuliana approves of.
10. Hearing the flight attendant laugh while he was announcing the below zero temperature upon our arrival back into Minneapolis.
Ten things that were NOT so tough about our first trip of the spring season:
1. Reading the phrase "Sleep In!" on our schedule.
2. Having unlimited access to Nestle hot chocolate powder mix, cable, coffee (Dash's and Ale's fav J), tea packets, apples, fruit loops, and peanut butter (all provided by the lovely Hampton Inn).
3. Having breakfast end at 10 a.m. instead of the typical 9 a.m. breakfast end time (thanks again Hampton Inn).
4. Having a great attitude and FIGHTING (as a team) for every ball-every point.
5. Having our brand spanking, new freshmen (Yuliana Umanets) start her Gopher career at 4-0 after only being in the U.S. for a couple of days (talk about not letting that jet lag get ya).
6. Beating Kentucky 5-2!
7. Escaping the frigid weather of -20 degrees in Minneapolis.
8. Realizing (yet again) how incredibly lucky we are to have such an amazing facility, which includes (and this facility did not include) a delightful sound system, 10 indoor courts, cameras to record matches on each court, a comfortable temperature for both players and fans to enjoy, a locker room with doors that shut and a training room.
9. Laughing at what Lex's idea is for the next Jenga consequence (stay tuned to these blogs to hear about it).
10. Realizing that we have incredible potential to DO WORK this season!