Illini women focus on positive attitudes

By Harini Ganesh

The women’s tennis team has played in two tournaments thus far. It has had success, and the team remains motivated for the upcoming regional competition as well as for the rest of the season.

“This team has really put in a lot of effort,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “We’ve challenged them in the morning workouts, in our lessons, in our practices to let them know that the only attitude I want is positive attitude.”

This attitude has come out in the results the Illini have accumulated so far.

In their opening tournament at the Spartan Cup Invitational, Momei Qu and Emily Wang reached the Flight A double’s finals. Qu, along with sophomore Macall Harkins and senior Brianna Knue participated at the All-Americans qualifying tournament in Palisades, Calif., one of the three “grand slams” of college tennis. Through all this, they have been practicing their skills and technique as well as getting themselves motivated both physically and mentally.

Sophomore Anastasia Sokolova has been sidelined with a back injury since last October. She played for a short while last season and is anticipating returning to the courts soon. Playing and competing is what she loves the most and she’s doing her best to be motivated about recovering fully from her injury.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

“I just think that I’ll be able to play soon,” she said. “I’m doing my rehab, I work really hard, and I do as much as I can without hurting myself again.”

She added that in preparing for matches, it gives her an extra edge when competing.

Each team member usually comes in with something she feels she needs to work on and the coaches help her with that. Lama feels that they need to focus on their strengths as well as their weaknesses. They address the technical, tactical, physical and mental goals and get each of their inputs.

“We implement those in the lesson,” he said. “And hopefully incorporate them in the practice scenario.”

Putting what the team has learned at practice out in a real match depends not just on physical skills but also in each player’s mental ability. Senior Pavlina Akritas’s main goal is to keep up with the other girls and make it into the main lineup for each match.

“I try to be positive when I go to the court,” she said. “I just think ‘forget about the past and hopefully have a better future.'”

Lama added that one thing that makes this team really motivated is its love and passion for the game.

“I tell them the best motivation is intrinsic motivation,” he said. “They’re trying to challenge and see how far they can take this.”

He added that each player has an individual goal that motivates them to achieve it. An example includes Sokolova, who he said was motivated from her injury to return to the courts.

Sokolova herself said that the best way for her to stay motivated is to remember that they all have a responsibility to the team.

“If you slack off it affects the whole team,” Sokolova said. “Even though tennis is an individual sport, we all motivate each other. We know we’re not just doing this for ourselves.”