Representing the Pomona-Pitzer women’s tennis team, Caroline Casper PO ’19 steeled herself as she gazed across the court at her opponent–Jasmine Hosseini of University of California, San Diego. After what felt like an eternity, with neither player able to keep a dominant lead, here they were in a 10-point tiebreaker. And it was Casper, 9, vs. Hosseini, 8.
“It was match point, but if I lost the point, then we would be tied again,” Casper recalled the deciding moment. “I told myself, ‘Okay, I just need to get one more point and then this is all over.’”
Casper, who has been playing tennis since she was five, said that she likes to go into matches “with no expectations,” but that she was pleasantly surprised to win this one.
Her victory would be the only one for the Sagehens (1-1) in their competition against the No. 18-ranked Division II UCSD women’s tennis team (4-4) on Sunday, Feb. 14. However, the Hens made up for their loss that day against Occidental College, knocking their opponents off the court with a 9-0 win.
“Between the nerves and the excitement of finally getting to play a match after a long and grueling preseason, there’s a lot of emotions,” Emily Chen PO ’18 said.
Not to mention, there’s some pressure on the team to do well: Coming off last season with a No. 7 national ranking, P-P did not graduate any seniors and added depth to their lineup with a large freshman class.
“I’m really excited for this season,” Chen said. “I think we have the potential to improve our ranking from last year, beat CMS, and go to the quarterfinals of NCAAs in Kalamazoo, but that’s all going to take a lot of hard work.
Casper adds, “I know I’m part of an amazing team. We’re just going to go out and do the best we can, but we know we can do great things.”
Both players noted not only the capability and confidence of the team, but also its camaraderie.
“Honestly, I’ve just always loved the sport of tennis, but coming here, I love the team aspect,” Casper said. “It’s like a family. We call the seniors ‘mama Hens’ and they really are like our second moms. It’s a very tightly knit community.”
Chen echoed: “Anytime I’m feeling down in practice because of schoolwork or just because of life, I know I can just look at my teammates and be motivated by their passion, their hard work, and the amazing things they have accomplished. I honestly couldn’t be prouder of each and every one of my teammates.”
The tennis team heads to Indiana next week for the ITA Indoor National Championships, where they hope to challenge themselves, raise their level of play, and show everyone what P-P tennis is all about.