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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Women’s tennis finds triumph off the court

    Even to an outsider observing the Arizona women’s tennis practice, the camaraderie among the players is striking. Whatever strategy the team is employing has yielded optimal results, as the Wildcats are 2-0 in their young season.

    It is a prevalent theory in sports that team chemistry is not built on the court alone. The women’s tennis team took this idea to the next level, holding a retreat for the players and coaches at the White Stallion Ranch, a guest ranch in the Tucson Mountains near Saguaro National Park.

    “”I thought it was a great way to get exposure to something we’re not used to doing,”” said head coach Vicky Maes.

    “”It was the first time I’d ever been to a ranch,”” said freshman sensation Natasha Marks, who hails from Nottingham, England. “”It was really pretty, and the horses were lovely.””

    In addition to the novel surroundings, the team was put through a series of activities, one of which entailed the team driving a horse over a low jump, without speaking or touching the horse.

    “”They learned they need to be more of a team, work on becoming more cooperative as a team,”” said assistant coach Ryan Stotland. “”As individuals, I think they learned what they can provide.””

    He and Maes were asked not to participate in the challenges at White Stallion Ranch, but rather to simply observe and wait until the end of the experience to provide their input.

    Maes admitted that she struggled initially with a bystander role.

    “”I kept wanting to say, ‘See? See what you’re doing,'”” Maes said.

    However, she realized through the course of the team’s stay that it was beneficial for the players to hear advice from others outside of the coaching staff, often the same counsel she would give them, transplanted to a different setting.

    “”It showed them that we know what we’re doing,”” Maes said. “”It was good confirmation for us as coaches.””

    Wildcat players and coaches also noticed that the players adopted roles similar to those they held on the court.

    “”I think everyone was able to step forward at one point,”” said freshman Sarah Landsman.

    The players also underwent an exercise in which they discussed personal fears, as well as goals for the season. Ironically, sophomore Jane Huh possessed a fear of horses, one she managed to overcome throughout the course of the retreat.

    “”I try looking at my fears in a positive way now,”” Landsman said. “”And I still always try to keep those goals in mind.””

    Added Maes: “”I learned more about how I need to approach them as a coach. We’re so intent on finding what they’re not doing – we need to let them know what they are doing. “”

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