Written by Cianna Jay and Tiane Davis // Photo by Balazs Balassa
As the tennis season ends, the men’s and women’s tennis teams are preparing for their six senior players to graduate and move on. To celebrate these graduates, head coach David Redding brought the seniors on the court after their April 11 game. Seniors presented parting speeches about their time on the team and at Harding, and family and friends were given the opportunity to attend this closing ceremony.
Redding said the end of the season is always difficult because each player has left an impact on the team. The men’s team is losing two seniors: Milosh Petrovic, one of the top six players, and Ricardo Rodrigues, the assistant coach for the women’s team last year and for the men’s team this year. The four graduating seniors from the women’s team are all part of the top six players. Redding said this will leave the teams with a void that will need to be filled, but he is excited about the future.
“It’s always tough to say goodbye to players that you’ve become close to over the last four years, but at the same time, I’m excited about the type of people they are and what they’re going to accomplish out in the world,” Redding said. “And so it’ll be great to see what they can do after they leave here.”
Senior Ashley Nilsson said preparing to graduate has been a bittersweet experience for her because of the memories and relationships formed from her time on the team. She said she has been most proud of seeing the other players on the team finding determination in tough situations, both on the court and in their personal struggles.
“Watching the girls, when they’re in really tough situations, just being able to stick it out … I think it’s really cool to see,” Nilsson said. “So I’m really proud of them and their determination in every area.”
After her experience as a junior player in Canada, where tennis was an individual sport, she has learned in her time at Harding how to work with a team to create a strong dynamic.
“Everything you do in practice every day, working towards the greater good of the team — like every decision, every team dinner that we have — it’s all to build us together because we can’t win unless everybody on the team is rooting for each other,” Nilsson said.
Senior Lina Romero said she has learned a lot from being a collegiate athlete.
“College tennis taught me how to care about every single person’s opinion and helped
me to understand that every single person in this world deserves an opportunity,” Romero
said. “My collegiate tennis career is a chapter that is about to close, and I am very sad to say that it is over. In saying that, I am happy because the opportunity and experience happened and I learned so much from it.”
The men’s team will end their season competing in the MIAA Tournament this weekend. The women’s team will play their final game of the season today at 2 p.m. against Henderson State University in Bentonville, Arkansas.