As the athletes on the ‘Iolani Girls Varsity Tennis team entered the court on October 27, nerves and adrenaline coursed through their bodies. As the girls played, a loyal fanbase of friends and family cheered them on from the sidelines, and three hours later, they walked away victorious over Hawaii Baptist Academy in the season finals. However, the title of champion did not come spontaneously. From the beginning of their season, the girls fought to better themselves and their team, providing them the dynamic cooperation that won them the championship.
The beginning of the season was not perfect for the tennis athletes. Losing their first two games, they experienced early defeat. Nevertheless, with the help of Coach Henry Somerville and a will to succeed, they pushed themselves to do better.
“None of us were happy with our performance early on,” said Jenna Yoshimi ’19. ”It seemed that, in the off-season, we had lost our team dynamic. So we knew we had to learn to work together again.”
The girls strived to develop a collaborative environment, supporting teammates by learning to play together in doubles and cheering them on in singles. This new attitude helped them regain the steam they lost early on and ultimately determined how they worked together in the finals.
“I think that, going forward, we have to make it a point to both develop as a team before the matches begin,” said team captain Karen Ngo ‘20. “Even though tennis is in many ways an individual sport, learning to support each other’s play styles was so important this season and really helped us to find a sense of community.”
Besides working together, the Girls Tennis team also set a goal to improve every player on an individual level, paying attention to technique and execution.
“Our roster wasn’t very big this year, so we were really able to focus on each player,” Ngo explained. “Personally, I saw development in everybody this year and I think that’s partly what helped us win the championship.”
Ngo’s teammates agree with her.
“My strokes and timing improved so much over the course of this season,” said Sachi Sawamura '19. “I feel like I advanced to a higher level and I saw that in many of my teammates as well.”
Along with fostering team development, the focus on individual players’ strengths and weaknesses helped the Tennis team to grow and succeed this season.
With this successful season behind them, the athletes are already planning ways that they can keep their winning streak next year.
"We did a lot right this year, but there's always room for improvement,” said Ngo. “Next season, I want the girls to focus on tenacity and keeping positive even if they are on the losing end of a match.”
With this in mind, the team and their fanbase look forward to starting a new season in 2019, when they will continue to ace their way to victory.