The St. Olaf women’s tennis team has won their first two matches of the spring, defeating St. Mary’s and Hamline to open conference play. While there’s lots to be proud of on the court thus far, Head Coach Scott Nesbit may be most proud of the team’s academic excellence: They boasted a 3.82 GPA in the fall semester.
“Oh man, it is so good. I mean these women are just doing great work,” Nesbit said. “They do a really good job of taking their studies seriously and then coming to practice and taking that seriously and having some fun while doing it. They’re just really good student athletes. I think it’s just fabulous.”
The team is led by three senior captains: Greta Prockosh ’21, Sabrina Barboza ’21 and Emily Otteson ’21. There are five seniors, four juniors, one sophomore and one first-year on the team. With the small total of 11 players, they are able to form close connections. Barboza expressed her gratitude for her teammates and coaches.
“We put a lot of emphasis on making sure that we’re taking care of our academics first,” Barboza said. “I think our team has always had a lot of really good success in the classroom. I think that’s a testament to our team dynamic, but also it comes from the coaches as well. They really respect our time and they really know that for us it’s really important for us to do well not only on the court but really especially in the classroom.”
The team’s GPA of 3.82 is the highest in the athletic department. Nesbit addressed how they use their intelligence on the court.
“Tennis is a very kind of cerebral game,” Nesbit said.“There’s a lot of strategizing. It kind of lends itself well to using your smarts. I think we have a very smart team. We make a lot of good decisions when we play.”
Along with other sports at St. Olaf, the Women’s Tennis Team has experienced a lot of uncertainty due to the pandemic. They would usually begin to have matches around Feb. 10. This year, due to the quarantine, they were unable to start practicing until Feb. 22. Despite the tough times, the team keeps itself motivated through team bonding and dad jokes from Coach Nesbit.
“I love playing tennis, so just playing with really good tennis players every day is something that I took for granted a little bit before COVID,” Barboza said. “I just kinda realized like, dang dude, we’re so lucky to be doing this even right now. We’re so lucky to have matches, so lucky to have practice, so yeah it’s always been fun but especially this year I’ve really appreciated how special the group is.”
Even with the delay to the beginning of the season they have hit the ground running. As the team looks forward to the rest of the MIAC, Barboza is confident.
“I think this is our year. I’m really excited, the team is looking really good, people are clicking. I think we’re peaking at the right time too. So I’m really really excited. My ultimate goal has been and still is to win the whole thing,” Barboza said.
Their next match is April 16 at 4:00 p.m., at home and against St. Catherine University. Per the current COVID-19 regulations, students are allowed to attend.