For the 17th consecutive year, Western Washington University’s club tennis team will compete in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tennis on Campus National Championship.
One of 64 teams to qualify, WWU holds the longest streak of trips to the national tournament, which is held April 9-11, in Cary, North Carolina.
But the team members say its never been an expectation or sure thing that WWU will make the National Championship, and this year was one example of how close they came to losing the streak.
At the Pacific Northwest Section Championship in Beaverton, Oregon, WWU was holding onto third place with the final event coming up. The top three teams get an automatic bid to the National Championship.
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Mixed doubles was up next, with WWU leading by just six points. The team fell in an early 5-0 hole, but was able to gut out a win in overtime to send the club’s first team to nationals.
Club President Cooper Anderson was half of the mixed doubles team, and Vice President Nick Jarvis said he had confidence in the team’s leader.
“It was scary, but we were confident we could win it,” Jarvis said in a phone interview. “For years he’s been a mixed player, so he knows how to get it done.”
In his second year as club president, Anderson continued the tradition of a successful WWU team, but now he has to start handing over the reigns to Jarvis because he graduates in the spring.
“It’s a lot of different feelings for me,” Anderson said. “It’s happy because I’m graduating, but it’s sad and nostalgic to look back and see how tennis flew by. It was fun and engaging and tight-knit, but there are a few people chomping at the bit to fill our shoes, so that is the big thing that makes me happy — to see others who want to continue what I’ve helped build.”
Another player traveling to nationals is junior Manny Larrain. This will be Larrain’s first trip to nationals, even though he was on the cusp of making the travel team twice before. His improvement as a player and a leader made him an easy choice for Anderson.
Seniors Sierra Southworth and Youngha Kim are also traveling to nationals. This will be the third year traveling to the National Championship for both of them. Anderson said he knows what to expect from them since they’ve been so consistent for the team.
Anderson also had good things to say about Jarvis’ playing ability.
“Nick has played a lot of really close and tough matches,” Anderson said. “His attitude and mental ability to stay in it and keep fighting are what make him a standout player.”
Last year the club team took 32nd overall, the highest finish Anderson and Jarvis can remember. They have a tough draw this year, Jarvis said.
“We’re in a group for pool play with Georgia, Cornell and Marquette, so it should be a fairly tough first day at least,” Jarvis said. “Georgia is the champion from two years ago and then we have a couple big schools.”
The USTA Tennis on Campus National Championship is from April 9-11, in Cary, North Carolina. Visit tennisoncampus.com for more information and to follow along with the tournament.