Truman freshmen tennis players adjust to college level

The Truman State University tennis team is 9-5 and opened their spring season against University of Missouri-St. Louis, Feb. 3. 

The team plays more matches during the spring and must travel for most of them because Truman does not have an indoor tennis facility to host matches during the winter months, sophomore player Abbi Worster said. 

Having a less busy fall allows the team to prepare for a busier spring season, making it smaller of an adjustment, freshman player Calli Hepfinger said.

The fall season can still be hard to manage as a freshman, but having less time in the classroom compared to high school makes it easier to manage time, freshman player Sydney Dial said. Having a full schedule as a senior in high school made her more prepared for a busy freshman year.

Rather than time management being the hardest adjustment, it was getting over the mental block, Dial said. After her match, a third-set tiebreaker against Quincy University during the fall, Dial remembered feeling like she played much better than she thought she would. 

“After doing that, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is college tennis. I’m at this level now,’” Dial said. “I still think about that cause it’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I did do that. I deserve to be on a college tennis team.”

Dial hasn’t been the only one getting over a mental hump this season.

Worster said her biggest accomplishment this season has been improving her mentality around the game. 

 “I know a lot of people get burnt out in their college years because their main focus is athletics, and then they don’t want to play the sport anymore,” Worster said. “So I think we just focus on playing our best, the best we can. We are going to have losses and that’s ok, and we are going to improve those during practice.”

Another factor of mental blocks is that a lot of the matches are unpredictable, Dial said. 

Dial said when she was in high school, it was easier to know what the competition would be like, but in college, it is harder to predict. 

“Every opportunity that I have is an experience that I haven’t had before, so I might as well use it to fortify my future experiences down the road,” Dial said. 

Hepfinger said she agrees, and her biggest goal this season is to continue to improve.

The Bulldogs have had a successful spring, with a record of 5-3, and will face Southwest Baptist University, Mar. 31. 

“Honestly, I think we all just want to play good tennis,” Worster said. “We want to have fun with it. I mean winning is great, but at the end of the day, it comes down to your attitude and how you feel about the sport in general.”