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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Tennis’ Laura Oldham eyes leadership role

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Rebecca Marie Sasnett

Arizona then-junior Laura Oldham warms up before Arizona’s 5-2 win against Colorado on April 5 at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center. Oldhan is the lone senior on this year’s team and has taken up a leadership role.

When a team loses four of its top players, all of which were seniors, it is tough to fight back and find a new leader to step up. In its fall season, Arizona women’s tennis is dealing with this problem.

“When you lose four seniors in one year, it changes the dynamics and brings the maturity level down a bit, but we are driven and excited to move forward,” women’s tennis head coach Vicky Maes said.

Look no further than the lone senior on the team, Laura Oldham. Oldham has three years of collegiate tennis under her belt and is ready to take the next step to lead the team.

“I’m trying to push everyone to get the most out of them and really trying to focus on being together as a team,” Oldham said. “If you don’t have a good season, then people split apart. As a senior, for this to be a fun year, we need to be together, to go through adversity and bring us together as a team.”

Last season, Oldham did just that, recording a 14-6 singles record at the No. 6 spot for the Wildcats. Moving forward, she and the rest of the team will have to keep each other on track, especially with so many new players.

The only remaining players on the team from last year are junior Shayne Austin, junior Inge Hendrikx and sophomore Lauren Marker.

“We are all taking different roles than we were last year,” Oldham said. “All … of us are stepping it up a little bit, especially me as a senior. I’m trying to get the team together, which is really important in this offseason right now. It’s really important to get the newbies to understand our program and how we train so that in the spring, they are ready to go.”

The three new players are freshman Hanna Sohn, freshman Devin Chypyha and junior transfer Briar Preston. With three new athletes, Oldham is doing her best to show them the ropes and explain what it means to be a member of the team.

“Being a teammate is everything,” Oldham said. “It’s the support and constant backup that you have. I love college tennis because coming from a background in England, we were all individualized. I think being a college tennis player really allows you to enjoy the sport more because you are playing for six to eight other players as well.”

For Oldham, this upcoming season is almost like a flashback. During her freshman year and the 2011-12 season, three of the seniors also graduated.

In addition, following last year’s senior class will be quite the feat. Former seniors Lacey Smyth, Kim Stubbe, Susan Mc Rann and Akilah James compiled a 56-35 record in four seasons, including a 41-6 mark at home. Stubbe currently serves as a student volunteer assistant coach for the team. Although Oldham is the only senior, she is confident in her goals for the rest of the season.

“The biggest goal for me is to make it to nationals,” Oldham said. “That would be a great way to finish off my senior year. But also, to have some good wins and have a great team atmosphere [and] when we have those close matches, to really push each other and have an amazing team atmosphere to get the win.”

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Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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