Tennis ends season against Whitewater

Billy Piotrowski, Sports Writer

The 2018-2019 UW Oshkosh tennis season is in the books. Titans finished their season with a 5-11 record, going 3-3 in conference play during the 2018 half of the season.

The season wrapped up last Saturday at the Janesville Athletic Club, where Oshkosh faced rival UW-Whitewater in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Team Championship. Oshkosh fell 5-0 to the Warhawks in their first round matchup, losing a trio of doubles matches and a pair of singles matches.

Tournament matches are very fast paced and a far cry from a regular season dual. The day begins with a trio of doubles matches, concluding with six singles matches; the first team to reach five victories is then declared the winner.

Titan head coach Robert Henshaw commented on the urgency and strategy that goes into a Team Championship matchup.

“Tournament matches are essentially a race to five points,” Henshaw said. “At that point (when a team reaches five points), any match that is still being played is stopped. Knowing this, our emphasis going into the tournament was doubles. I thought that we had a chance to pull out a victory or two during our doubles matches, but we would have to play our best. Both our number two and three doubles played great but could not sustain their play throughout the entire match.”

The Titan doubles of junior Alyssa Leffler/freshman Michelle Spicer, junior Sami Koppa/senior Hannah Peters, and freshman Taylor Johnson/senior Ashlee Polena were defeated 8-0, 8-3 and 8-2, respectively.

Saturday also marked the last game on the court for Peters and Polena in Titan black and gold. Peters fell 6-1, 6-0 in her singles match, and Polena’s didn’t start due to Whitewater winning the race to five.

Even though things didn’t go her way against the Warhawks, Polena was positive when reflecting on the season and looking forward.

“The best moments from this season were getting wins we weren’t expected to get, getting a great new team, and having the best last season I could have,” Polena said. “It will be sad not to be out there with them next season, but I am always going to be a big supporter of UWO Tennis.”

It was an emotional day for Henshaw and Koppa as well. For Henshaw, he was watching the first player at UWO that he coached for four years.

“[Polena] is playing the best tennis of her life,” Henshaw said. “She has been fun to coach and has certainly left her mark on the culture and personality of our team.”
Koppa agreed; she, Leffler and Polena had been teammates since Koppa joined the team as a freshman in 2016.

“My favorite moment of the day was seeing our two seniors, Hannah and Ashlee, play their last matches,” Koppa said, “and see them appreciate every moment of it.”

After an emotional spring conclusion, the focus for the UWO tennis team shifts to the 2019-2020 season. This spring season may not have gone the way the team had hoped, but Henshaw is very excited for what next season will bring.

“I’m looking forward to a fresh start,” Henshaw said. “We had good moments in our spring, but those moments did not translate into the wins I was expecting that we would get. We have some terrific players returning next year. Some of our freshmen, and first-year competitors, got great experience this spring too. We are in good shape to have a lot of success in 2019 and 2020.”