Women’s tennis team dominates start of season

 

Freshman Malina Amjadi takes a swing on the UNI tennis courts for the women’s tennis varsity team.

As she swings her racquet and hits the ball across the net, senior Jamie Knox scores yet another point for the undefeated women’s varsity tennis team. Knox’s mind isn’t just focused on this one meet, however, as the team is aiming to be the first in the school’s history to make it to State.

Knox said that working toward such a high honor is not something that will come without hard work and effort. “Most of our preparation came before the season even started,” Knox said. “Many of the girls on the team have worked hard all year round to practice and be prepared for the coming season.”

Varsity member junior Vipsa Dodiya said that every member puts in their all on and off the court. “We have practice every day except on Sundays, and the top six varsity, as well as the JV, have extra lessons at the Black Hawk Tennis Club. Basically, we play 24/7; there are no days off,” Dodiya said. “We need to be on top of our game all the time, especially with our goal for State in mind.”

Assistant Coach Tara Sagers said that the goal of reaching State is not something that the team takes lightly. “The girls have a goal to be the first team in the history of Cedar Falls women’s tennis go to team State,” Sagers said. “So far our season is going even better than we anticipated. The team is currently 8-0 and dominating the competition so far.”

Strong players make up the varsity team, including Cedar Falls’ number one player junior Krisha Keeran. For her, the strength of the team is what has been keeping them successful. 

“I think one of the reasons why we have been successful is because of our team dynamic. We cheer each other on hard during tough matches and are always encouraging each other,” Keeran said. “The freshmen especially this year have stepped up to the plate and have proved themselves well.”

Freshman Malina Amjadi agreed and said that by working together as team, the Tigers are able to up their game and challenge one another. “In tennis it can be easy to drop down to the level of a lesser player, but this team is exceptional at going onto court with confidence and playing our own game,” Amjadi said. “We also take part in a team huddle, which inspires us all to play our best, no matter the skill level of our opponents across the net.”

During practices, the girls are hard at work, playing drills and conditioning to keep them in their best shape possible. “We do agility training as well as many drills in practice, strategic doubles drills, and we definitely try to have fun at the same time,” Sagers said. “Tennis is a very physical and mental sport.  The girls on varsity train year-round, which help them in meets.”

Meets can be a stressful time for the girls, due to their perfect record, but they have a lucky charm that keeps them in check. “As the captain, Jamie gives us one of her signature pep talks, and she loves to break it down before and after every practice and meet,” Doodiya said. “We don’t know who’s going to break it down next year if Jamie’s not there.”

Amjadi shares the same gratitude for Knox, who is also her doubles partner. “Jamie Knox is already talking about coming to a few of our meets next year.  It has been fun to share the experience of growing as players with her,” Amjadi said. “As her doubles partner, I can tell she is grateful to be leaving the team in good hands. She has been a wonderful leader in team culture, coming together before and after meets, and pumping us up.”

Knox said she is going to have a tough time leaving the team but is looking forward to continuing in the sport as she attends Wartburg College next year. “Our team gets along really well. I feel this year we have a lot of people who knew each other before the season, and that has definitely transferred into the team well,” Knox said. “Currently I am the only senior graduating off of the varsity team, and I know that after four years, my last match is going to be a sad day for me.”

For Sagers, the team’s bond is something that gives them an advantage over their opponents. “Honestly, I love that they all get along. They pump each other up and just have a great time,” Sagers said.“This team is a coach’s dream team.”

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