Leadership, preparation leads to best start in SEU women’s tennis history

In just her fifth season with the team, Coach Kendall Brooks has led the women’s tennis team to the best start in school history with an undefeated record of 13-0. Though this news offers great momentum for the team, Brooks says that there is much left in the season to focus on.

“We’re excited, but we also know that it’s a long season ahead… there’s a lot of matches and tougher opponents coming up,” Brooks said. “So, we’re trying not to focus so much on our record as just taking it one match at a time.”

Obviously, the hot start didn’t just happen overnight. Leading up to the season, Brooks says there were several physical aspects that go into this demanding preparation.

“We put a lot of time on the court, focusing individually on each player’s needs. Of course, there’s a lot of off-court training, running, and lifting; trying to be in the best physical shape so that we can go into the spring season where you’re playing matches all the time.”

Though they have not lost a match yet, Brooks says that it is crucial for the team to continue to work their hardest and prepare adequately to give them the best shot at continuing the win streak.

“The most important part is that we keep working hard every day and being as prepared as possible, because I think preparation leads to confidence,” she said.

The lone senior on the team, Marissa Williams, is very appreciative of the opportunities that are presented before her. Additionally, she is constantly striving to outwork herself in hopes of inspiring her teammates.

“It’s great being a senior and having a record-breaker already… it’s been awesome to experience that with this team,” Williams said. “I try to [serve as a team leader]. My biggest thing is that I try to work as hard as I can in practice and I feel other people working hard makes me want to work harder. I think it’s huge feeding off of other people’s energy and making each other better by doing better yourself.”

As for how she plans on contributing to the team’s success, Williams understands she has to continue to promote energy and teamwork as key factors for gathering more wins.

“In one of our matches, I felt like our energy was so in sync throughout the six courts. That was the best feeling I’ve felt being here the last three and a half years and that had a lot to do with the vocal energy.”

Through this historic run, Brooks notes the importance of maintaining a positive mindset and how crucial it is for the team’s momentum moving forward.

“I think winning gives everyone confidence. And so, the more you win, the more confident you are,” she said. “Hopefully not over-confident, but feeling like we can play good tennis and beat anybody… I’d say it’s 80% mental. So, I think, mentally, we’re in a really good, positive place. I think that should definitely help us in our matches coming up.”