BC Women’s Tennis warms up season against Whitman

Illustration by Brandy Pickering

It may not be obvious from looking outside, but spring is fast approaching and with it comes the warmer weather sports, most notably, tennis.
The Bellevue College Women’s tennis team recently travelled to the University of Puget Sound to play a preseason scrimmage against Whitman College.
Whitman, a four-year institution, beat the BC women in most singles and doubles matches, but Bellevue showed resilience with the performance of second year player, Martha Santos.
Ranked as the number two players on the team, Santos won her singles match 2-6-1 and her doubles 8-3 with longtime partner Jazi Ahyat.
Santos, who moved to Seattle from California and has been playing tennis for over ten years, was only lukewarm about her play. “I didn’t play great. I did OK, but I can definitely do better.”
Jason Chapman, who played four years of tennis at Eastern Washington University, has been the head coach of the BC tennis team since 1998 and says his girls will play any competition they can get. “If they are willing to play us, we’ll go and play them. Most years we travel to Salem, Oregon to play Willamette. This year we are also going all the way to Ontario, Oregon to play Treasure Valley.”
BC remains in the NWAACC conference for tennis but shares the conference with only four other teams, creating the need to seek out other opponents. “The four-year universities we play are able to spend more time and money recruiting players, but we still learn a lot about our team by playing them,” said Chapman as he watched his players run through indoor drills on a wet Wednesday afternoon.
Despite sometimes being over-matched by the four-year universities, Chapman says he’s able to get a gauge on where his team is at, which is particularly important this season as the team has several new faces. “I don’t think our team is as strong this year as it was last year. We lost four good players and I’m still trying to see where we are at in terms of talent.”
The BC tennis team has won seven consecutive NWAACC championships dating back to 2005. Even with a weaker team, Chapman still hopes to return to Spokane in May for the championships. “My expectations going in every year are that we make it to Spokane and compete for a title. Even though our team isn’t as strong, I still feel that we can do that.”
Even though the team is thought to be less talented than in recent years, Chapman was forced to cut four players from open tryouts in early February. The current eight player roster is the maximum amount Chapman allows in order for all the players to receive adequate playing time.
The team has all of its practices and home games at Robinswood Tennis Center across the street from Bellevue College. For the month of February the girls were practicing three times a week, but as the season shifts into full gear, they will switch to five practices a week in March, April and May, with each session over an hour long.
The BC women get an opportunity to show off their talent at the individual tournament on March 10-11 in Stanwood. The tournament will feature all singles and doubles players in the same weekend.