Dear Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Tennis Team:
Tennis was not an easy sport to play in my hometown of Seattle, Washington when I was a kid. Seattle is a rainy town so much of the year outdoor tennis is not possible and there was a lot of competition for indoor court time. There also weren’t many local tournaments and those I did play meant I played the same 10 girls over and over. But I loved the game, wanted to play college tennis, and was excited about being on a team.
I remember my Dad questioning whether I would make the traveling team before tryouts. But I did make the team and found a special program that brought out the best in me and my game.
And I got better and better. Being able to play tennis whenever I wanted was a revelation! I had some setbacks – one of them being an ankle injury my first year as a Hen. But that setback ended up being a turning point for me as a player. I loved the training room and started working there as a student athlete. I met many different athletes and learned a few important things from them – to be the best, I needed to not only give 100% every time I hit the courts, but I also needed to focus on more than just the game. I started learning about and working on nutrition, fitness, mental toughness and being a better leader.
By my senior year, I was giving it 100% at team practices but supplementing them with fitness and training to get stronger and fitter. All this work paid dividends. Our team became the first ever NCAA DIII team win for Pomona-Pitzer in any sport and I also won both the singles and doubles title (with partner Erin Hendricks) that year.
I still love tennis, continue to compete in national age-level tournaments and have even managed to win a few gold balls! I have passed that love of the game onto my family and 2 of my girls play tennis competitively. But I think that tennis taught me so much about life – the joy of working hard for something, the importance of being there for your teammates and friends, and the value of giving back to others. Special thanks to my teammates and especially to my coach Lisa Beckett, my coach for life.
Shelley Keeler Whelan
Pomona College, Class of 1992