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March 31, 2009

Women's Tennis Blog #3
Robyn Jones

This Lady Tiger Tennis Spring 09 season is full of firsts! Last Saturday, March 28, we had the pleasure of packing the AOB conference room with the first annual "Family and Friends" brunch; complete with a speech from head coach Lee Taylor Walker, a picture slideshow, and two tables full of breakfast goodies. (No, the team didn't pig out. We saved that for after our match.) Our nurse/athletic trainer/counselor/tech whiz, Erin Walker, put together some photos of our team over the past two years. We honored our only graduating senior, Kristin Chamberlain, giving her a gift from the team and individual letters written by all of the girls. After graduation in August, she'll head off to Disneyworld to take part in an eighteen-week internship program with the huge corporation! Coach Walker expressed his pride in all of her accomplishments, both academic and athletic, and called on the rest of the team to follow in her footsteps and graduate with a purpose. She has made us all extremely proud. Coach continued on with a reminder of where our team is headed (straight to the top) and thanked our family and friends for supporting us through the tough times and celebrating with us when we have breakthroughs. Every Lady Tiger truly owes a large part of our success to the love and encouragement of those around us (shout-out to the Jones clan!). The brunch was a hit thanks to the hard work and planning of our coaches.

After finishing up, the party headed on over to the Wellworx indoor courts, where your Lady Tigers took on Southern Miss in a conference match. The atmosphere was tense, but the girls were ready for a little revenge after losing a tight match to them 3-4 last season. We started off with a bang, winning the first two out of three doubles matches (one of them 8-0 thanks to Amanda Brown and Lindsey Wiseman!) and taking the doubles point. The intensity transitioned smoothly into singles as the girls fought their way to a 4-1 win over our CUSA rivals! Ashley Murdock at #1, Marjorie Ondeck at #2, and Lindsey Wiseman at #6 secured our win in singles with some decisive victories. It was a great victory, but perhaps the best part was being able to celebrate it with so many University of Memphis supporters. We now look forward to our next home match, April 7, against the Arkansas State Red Wolves. We hope to see you there, and make sure to wear your Memphis blue!


March 25, 2009

Women's Tennis Blog #2
Robyn Jones

Well, Memphis' Lady Tiger Tennis is finishing up the first half of a long season, but for us, this is just the beginning. We started off the month of February with a set of great wins, toppling both Samford and UAB, teams that beat us just last year. But the month was far from over, and there were plenty of ups and downs in store for us. After tough losses to UTA and SMU (the latter is now ranked 45th in the nation), we stepped up and beat SFA, another team that had previously beat us. We pushed on through the rest of the month, battling SEC schools Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Arkansas, scaring away Tulane (the match was rescheduled due to rain), and falling to Houston. We lost two players, one to an injury that might put her out for the rest of the season, but your Lady Tigers were far from discouraged.

This past weekend, we swept two of our three home matches 7-0, winning the third by a decisive 5-2 margin. With our record now 8-7, the best start since 2003, we look forward to the rest of our season with some serious confidence. We set our sights on winning our remaining matches, hopefully ending with a win against Tulane in New Orleans on our way to conference (Laissez les bon temps rouler!). Speaking of good times, this week we'll enjoy our spring break in California playing Cal Poly, Cal State at Northridge, and Loyola Marymount. But for now, sitting in the Memphis airport at 5:30 a.m. en route to Los Angeles, our attention stretches only as far as the coming week, our three matches, the California beach, shopping, and when we're going to eat breakfast.


February 3, 2009

Women's Tennis Blog #1
Dara Toulch
This past Tuesday, our team traveled to Birmingham to play two tough matches; our first match was against UAB. UAB has beaten our school five consecutive years. Samford, our afternoon match, beat us last year 6-1. To top that off, A few weeks go, we played individual pre-season matches versus UAB and Samford, and they won the majority of the matches. The past few weeks at practice were grueling. We all worked extremely hard, and our coaches Lee and Matt pushed us to our limits. After such a week, we were all confident that we could emerge victorious.

Tuesday comes, and all ten of us pile into our van. Oh have we had some interesting experiences in that van. Lets just say, my team likes to break out into song every once in a while. But for now, everyone is calm and prepared for the long couple of days ahead. With ipods charged, and snacks in tow, we head out on the road for what was surely to become a very memorable day for our team and me.

Roughly four hours later, we arrive at the hotel in Birmingham, check in, grab some dinner, and go to practice. Like I said earlier, some strange things have happened in our van rides. And as predicted, on the way to practice, all the girls started chanting "Dancing Queen". Practice went well, and we all head back to the hotel to get some sleep.

Tuesday was the big day, the day that my team and I have been waiting for. We had already started off the season right with some good wins, but this was the day that would really prove many people wrong and would change the rest of our season and the impression people have on our team. No one expected us to win either of these matches except for us and our coaches. We were the underdogs in everyone's eyes. However, we all knew we could win, and there was no way we were going to let either team take over because we put in the work and we were ready to win.

Tuesday was a long day. We played at the Samford indoor courts, and they only have three courts, when we might possibly have to play nine separate matches. At 9:30am, doubles started against UAB. We played amazing. As I was watching from the bleachers, I was remembering all the drills we worked on in practice, and I could see my teammates implementing them into their matches. Everyone fought so hard, and from watching, it was easy to see that we all wanted this win so badly. About an hour and a half later, we had won the doubles point! This was huge! Now on to singles, the real test of the morning. Since we had a double header, we were only playing to completion, which is to four points. Our first three singles matches went on with Marj, Ashley, and Summer. All three matches went to a third set, but first one off court was Ashley with the win. I hopped on court to start my match, but only got to four games, when Marj closed out her match, and Summer pulled out the fourth win in a tight third setter. What a win for our team! We were at the courts from 8:00am to 1:30pm, but we pulled out the win to beat UAB 4-0. It was a battle, but we proved to be fighters to the end.

After lunch and a quick nap, we all headed back to the courts for our second and final match of the day, versus Samford. We arrived at the courts at 3:45 and started our team warm-up. Samford had already warmed up, and as I was hitting, I was noticing them relaxing on some couches behind the courts. I thought to myself, `How can you just be lying around before such an important match?'! They obviously didn't realize or expect our team to be any competition for them. They beat us pretty bad last year, and were probably expecting to do the same thing this year. Coach Lee warned us about them, told us what their impression was of us, and him saying that only fueled us to play better and fight harder. We are not the same team we were last year, or even a few weeks ago at the pre-season tournament. It was surely a fight, but we were able to win the doubles point! Singles goes on a while later, and everyone fought to the bone. Marj had a tough loss at the number one spot, but Summer closed out her match at three to give us the lead 2-1. I went on court to start my match, and a little while later, Ashley won her match, a tough battle, in a third set. Unfortunately, I was not able to win my match, losing in three sets, but it was down to Robyn and Amanda to earn the win. It was now Memphis -3, Samford -2, and we were all anxious and a little nervous to see the outcome of their matches, but still confident in our girls. Amanda was playing really well. Meanwhile, Robyn fought off two match points, and closed out her match in a tiebreaker in the third set. We have just beaten Samford, 4-2. This was an incredible day of tennis for my team and me. We all were able to see our hard work show through, and even with the few losses, everyone contributed and put in the effort with the right attitude.

I was really proud of my team. Being a junior at Memphis, I have seen many changes to the program. From different coaches, to different extremes of practice, and different players, and when I take a step back and look as if I were an outsider, it is truly incredible what our team was become. When I decided to go to a University in the United States to play sports, this is what I was hoping it would be like.

I am truly proud of my entire team. However, even though we pulled out two amazing wins, this is only the start of a long season to come, and we are not going to be content with only this - we are ready to take over every other team that we encounter, one by one, and we are prepared to put in the work and fight as hard as we can.

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