Women’s tennis makes ‘no excuses’

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BYU tennis player Samantha Smith, a junior from Henderson, Nevada, gets ready to serve the ball. (BYU athletics)

The BYU women’s tennis team credits its recent success at the Cal Fall invitational in Berkeley, California, to their new found positivity and sportsmanship.

Head coach Holly Hasler said she has made changes to the team regarding discipline, sportsmanship and positive energy on the court.

“We are really trying to build on more team unity, and we’re really trying to work on encouraging and pushing each other with our positive energy and footwork,” Hasler said.

Hasler implemented a “no excuse” policy to hold the girls accountable for the way they play their game. According to Hasler, this encourages discipline and hard work but keeps the energy positive on the court.

“I think in the past they have been able to get away with a lot of excuses — so no excuses,” Hasler said.

Taylah Beckman, a senior on the team, said initially it was difficult to make the transition.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it — it was hard,” Beckman said. “The first few weeks everyone wasn’t used to it. But now we realize (Hasler) is doing it because she really cares about us, and she wants us to be great.”

These new changes are making a great impact on the team and the way they play individually and together. Samantha Smith, a junior on the team, said the team is pushing each other to be better.

“If someone is getting negative or looks down, then someone will call them out and get them right back up,” Smith said. “The whole time the energy is flowing and everything is around positivity and (being) grateful to be there.”

BYU women’s tennis team take the court at the Cal Fall Invitational in Berkeley, California, on Sept. 29. (dahlphotography1)

At the invitational in Berkeley on Sept. 29, the team was able to recognize these principles transitioning into their match play through the victories they were taking and the new mindset they have acquired, according to Smith.

When Smith was playing, Hasler was on the sidelines telling her positive things and boosting her attitude during the match.

Smith said that changed her perspective.

“I got out on the court in Berkeley, and I was just having fun,” Smith said. “It’s a totally different mindset and the whole time you’re looking forward, you’re not looking back.”

The Cal Fall Invitational was an eye-opener for the players and the coaches, according to Hasler.

“It was great to have my assistant and I there to be saying, ‘That’s what we’ve been working on. You just missed that opportunity,'” Hasler said. “And so then, the next time it comes, they’re like, ‘Oh, I just missed it!’ and then the next time they are actually taking that opportunity.”

Players on the team said they appreciate Hasler’s efforts to help them improve.

“I love (Hasler) because she’s not afraid to call people out,” Beckman said. “She’s not afraid to tell it how it is. It is impacting everyone in a good way because everyone is working harder and it is paying off in our match play.”

According to Hasler, the team is working on developing these skills to become muscle memory so it will naturally come when they go to the court.

“Going from practice to match play is not easy because you have the nerves, the environment and the atmosphere,” Hasler said. “We really need to have that muscle memory trained in our practices so that eventually when we do go to match play these things are going to become automatic.”

Beckman and Smith moved on to the finals of the ITA Doubles at the Cal Fall Invitational and Madeline Almeida advanced to the semifinals of the ITA Gold Singles.

The Cougars head to Las Vegas on Oct. 11 for the ITA Regional Championships.

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