An all-around team effort

By Gus Bode

Deep thoughts from …

Junior, SIU women’s tennis

The past few years I have experienced tennis from two angles. I have played the roles of both a player and a spectator, watching my teammates along the sidelines.

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Although being forced to sit out has been difficult, it has taught me not only a little bit about myself but also about my teammates and the people around me.

I’ll be the first to admit the SIU women’s tennis team has had its ups and downs since I came here three years ago. We have had to deal with a number of injuries and a shortage of players. Although everything hasn’t fallen into place the way we would have liked it, I think it has in turn taught us a lot about life and in the process has made us stronger.

Most importantly, we have learned the importance of teamwork. The tennis team, unfortunately, will never have as many fans as a football game, basketball game or baseball game. Therefore we don’t get the adrenaline rush from the roars of a crowd; we get them from the encouragement of our teammates. Our teammates are our fans, cheerleaders, assistant coaches and friends.

When your fellow Salukis are positive and energetic about playing, it makes you ready to go out and play. There is nothing more motivating and comforting than being able to walk out on the court knowing your teammates are going to give every match their best shot, and your fans are going to cheer you on whether you are winning or losing.

We feel the pain from each loss and the excitement from each win. We care about one another’s injuries and try to help console each other when we are down. This is what has made us a stronger team.

Coach Auld has been another one of the main reasons we continue to grow as a group. She has single-handedly kept this team together through the rough times these past few years. Everything that comes out of her mouth is encouraging and supportive, making it easy to go out and perform to our max. Without a good coach, we would never have come this far.

For many of the tournaments that start on an early Saturday morning, our only fans are the talented and dedicated athletic training staff. If it weren’t for Lee Land, the tennis team’s head trainer, all the trainers in the Athletic Department, along with everyone at the Clinical Center who deal with some of the more serious injuries, many of the girls on the tennis team would not even be healthy enough to play or at least be on the road to recovery.

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On a more personal note, I would like to thank Todd Vaughn, an exceptional physical therapist, who has taken care of me these past two years and has been an enormous encouragement in helping me cope and deal with my injury. All of these people do an exceptional job in giving us one-to-one attention and aren’t recognized enough for all their hard work and efforts.

This semester we have really grown as a tennis team, and we are starting to see the effects of all our hard work. Our sophomores have really stepped it up this semester, and the upperclassmen have excelled to become strong team leaders.

In spite of all our injuries, the team has had tremendous success already this year. Once we can get everyone healthy, I think our team has the potential to really do some damage in the future.

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