The first time Lauren Jones-Spencer, head coach of the women’s tennis team, picked up a tennis racket, she was playing with her mom on a summer evening. The two were hitting tennis balls back and forth when Spencer was suddenly hit in the face. Though a bit traumatizing, this event was the beginning of the rest of her life.
Just like Spencer, all the players on the women’s tennis team can recollect early memories of playing the sport they fell in love with. Some of them were naturally gifted athletes; others not so much. But the important part of it all was they continued to work, set goals and improve from where they left off the last time.
Megan Price, a senior from Kiama, Australia, was 5 years old and living in South Africa the first time she played.
“I remember hitting against the back wall for hours and hours on end,” Price said. “I broke a couple of windows, but I remember just hitting to see how many balls I could hit in a row.”
Morgan Anderson, a freshman from St. George, began simply because her mom signed her up.
“My mom put me in some city lessons,” Anderson said. “I can still see the old ghetto city court. I still remember my coach teaching me how to serve with the whole trophy stance. From there, I loved it and kept working at it.”
Throughout the past decade, these players and the others of their team have played in hundreds of matches, won some and lost some, but they keep coming back to the court for more.
So far this year, the Cougars have experienced ups and downs in tournaments they have competed in. Two weeks ago the team played in the California Nike Invitational where most players experienced an early exit from the tournament.
Despite shortcomings the team has experienced, they continue to go back to the drawing board to set goals of what they want to accomplish before each match.
“We meet all together before we go on,” Jones-Spencer said. “We fill out match sheets with their goals for the day. We also do visualization to get them in the right mind set and prepped and ready to go.”
Several players said they are religious about the visualization techniques they work on.
“A couple days before, I try to visualize the actual court I’m going to be playing on,” Anderson said. “I try to visualize how I want to play and the things I need to do in order to win. Right before I go out I like to be by myself. I don’t like to talk to anyone. I like a good 20 minutes early to my match so I can relax.”
Price also said she visualizes winning all the big points in order to see herself being successful.
This week the Cougars head back to the courts for the USTA/ITA Mountain Region Championships in Las Vegas, where they will continue to improve off the lessons of the last tournament.
“Last week was a good test for us to see what we needed to work on when we went to Cali,” Jones-Spencer said. “They played against some tough competition, but all the girls are ready for this tournament and I think we will see good things.”
After Jones-Spencer was wounded by her mother so many years ago she didn’t quit.
“Even after I got hit in the face, I came back,” she said.
And after all of her players experience a defeat, they continue to come back.