by Hope Brakenhoff
Tennis is a unique sport in which teams can be individual-based or partner-based. For the Greenville College team, tennis is much more than a game. The tennis players at GC love the game, but more importantly, they love the atmosphere of the team. The women’s team is small, but they have formed a bond unlike any other. They fight together and for each other on and off the court. Freshman Maddi Walsh said, “The team is much smaller than my high school team, but I like it better because it is a really tight-knit group. We all get along really well and it is amazing to be on a team where all of the girls share the same values in life.”
Tennis is different from many sports because it provides athletes with the opportunity for individualism, as opposed to sports like basketball or soccer, in which the focus on team is primary. Because of this, tennis players have the opportunity to improve at a faster pace; at every practice they can choose to focus on their own individual strengths, rather than focusing on what is best for the team as a whole. However, the GC team does strive to better the group as well. They want the team to succeed. Every player does her part to become a better teammate in order to improve the team. Junior Brooke Bryant said, “We have such a young team this year, which is great because it gives the team time to continue to grow in ability.” An aspect that makes this team different from others is their focus on what is best for the team. While they are focusing on how to improve themselves, they are also focusing a great deal on how the team can improve and how they can help one another.
The men’s team is similar to the women’s because they also posses a bond unlike most tennis teams. The team is very focused on building each other up and showing each other Christ-like love. Junior Nate Wieland has been playing tennis at GC from the time he arrived on campus. He has had a lot of good times and some hard times at GC, and he said, “The GC team has a strong sense of collective winning and losing.” Wieland said that when he was in high school he was more focused on his personal goals and competition rather than on how his team was doing. Since being at GC, that has all changed. “Coach Brett Brannon has flipped that on its head for me, as well as for the other guys,” Wieland said. The GC men’s tennis team has learned to look at the big picture and to look at what is best for the team. Like the women’s team, they have learned to focus on the group rather than just on the individual.
A bonus is that every year both tennis teams take a trip to Hilton Head, S.C., during spring break. They spend their spring break playing tennis and growing as a team. Bryant said she has thoroughly enjoyed the time in Hilton Head every year because it has always been great bonding time, and the team becomes more like family. Walsh had the opportunity to experience the trip for the first time this year, and she only had positive things to say about the time spent in South Carolina. The team stayed in a nice house close to the beach. Both teams spent time together every day. Whether it was through cheering each other on at their tennis matches, watching movies, playing sand volleyball, or going on bike rides, they bonded and grew as a team. When they returned from their trip, they finished out the tennis season strong — fighting for each other rather than just focusing on their own accomplishments.