As the school year is entering full-swing, it will be very hard to say that anyone has begun 2016-2017 in better fashion than the Wheaton women’s tennis team. Over Labor Day weekend when many freshmen visited Chicago for the first time and students played Spikeball on the beaches of Lake Michigan, the Thunder hosted three different opponents over three consecutive days with one consistent outcome: dominance. The team forged their way through Hanover College, Edgewood College and Luther College with a total record of 26-1.
Led by junior Katie Park at first singles, the Thunder went undefeated through 18 singles matches in three days. Park told The Record, “Like every team at Wheaton, we practice seriously and push each other every day in a really good way.”
In this case, serious practice makes for serious wins on the court, but there may be another secret behind their success.
When asked about what makes her playing style unique and successful, Park explained, “It’s important to understand that the amount of time we are actually playing tennis is only a fraction of the game, and it’s what you do between points that makes a difference. If you look at the game shot for shot, a lot of players have similar skills and can hit great shots, but it’s often the emotional and mental aspects that separate one from the other.”
When the game gets rough or she needs a moment to slow things down, Park will pick something in nature to fixate on as a reminder of the beauty of God’s creation. Then, focused and confident, she bounces the ball a few times and sends a powerful serve over the net.
In many ways, this very concept is foundational to the Wheaton athletics program. Between every serve, rally, ace, touchdown, goal and spike, the Thunder seek to distinguish themselves in the little things.
Last Tuesday, Sept. 6, marked the first loss for the Thunder as they fell to UW-Whitewater 2-7. Junior Miranda Kay and sophomore Emma Westwick captured the only two victories for the Thunder at third and sixth singles, respectively. Their next home match is next Thursday as they start CCIW play against Millikin University at 5:30 p.m.