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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s water polo going out on top

Before the seniors of the Arizona women’s water polo team don their graduation gowns, they will sport their water polo caps at least one more time as Wildcats.

The team is hosting the 2010 Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship today through Sunday at the Student Recreation Center pool. For the team’s senior members, nationals are bittersweet.

“”It’s really sad,”” said captain and college of medicine senior, Jennifer Shah. “”Honest to God, (water polo) has made my school experience here. In the past four years, I’ve made some of the best friends. There are (graduated) girls  I still keep in touch with from two or three years ago, and even the younger girls this year, I plan on keeping in touch with them (when I graduate).””

Last year, the Wildcats finished sixth overall at nationals and will be playing in the tournament as the No. 16 seed this year. They take on No. 1 seed California Polytechnic State University today at 9 a.m.

“”We’ve seen them play, and they are very good,”” said college of nursing senior Janine Whitmore. “”We’re optimistic about it. We’ve practiced hard, and we’ll see what happens.””

Arizona is hosting the women’s water polo nationals for the first time in its history — the men’s team had the privilege of hosting the men’s nationals last year.

Sixteen teams, representing 13 divisions, will be competing in the tournament, and the team and its seniors couldn’t be any more thrilled to be hosts.

“”It’s super exciting,”” Shah said. “”We’ll finally get to have family and friends to come watch. It’s nice for the seniors to play in their last big tournament at home.””

Shah has been playing water polo for five years and has been swimming competitively her whole life. She said that once she started playing water-polo, swimming was “”never the same again.””

As a captain of the team, Shah has not taken the task lightly.

“”Out of all the captains that I have worked with, she and our other captain, (Rachel Rodia), have put everything into this team, more than I’ve ever seen in the past,”” Whitmore said. “”They’ve taken on a leadership responsibility and have shown people what to do and not just told them.””

While Shah began water polo by choice, her teammate Whitmore was “”pushed into it”” by her current coach and father, Jeff Whitmore.

And now that she is “”into it,”” Whitmore doesn’t have any regrets. She will always have the relationships that she has built with her teammates.

“”You’ll always miss the girls you’ve grown close to,”” Whitmore said. “”You travel with them and get to know them so well (by) spending 10 or 12 hours (with them) practicing every week. It’ll be something I miss. I have no (doubts) that we’ll stay in touch once we graduate.””

As the two seniors’ time at the UA is coming to an end, both have an eye toward the future.

Upon graduating, Shah, who has always wanted to do something in medicine, plans on working for a year or two before going back to school for physical therapy. Whitmore plans to go on to medical school and wants to work with people and “”hopefully affect lives.””

But, before they start life after college, Shah and Whitmore have a game to play.

“”The whole team is looking forward to nationals,”” Whitmore said. “”It’s great to bring water polo to the UA anytime we can. We’re excited about that.””

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