Consistency and confidence fuel Corsairs
With last year's state championship loss in the rear view mirror, SMC women's tennis is staying focused this season with aspirations to return to the championships and bring a title to Santa Monica College. They understand that it will take hard work, perseverance, and a strong team bond throughout the season to get back to that point and continue their winning ways.
"If we are going to win it all, we are going to have to act like a team," said co-captain Gwendolyn Kauffmann. "We can't have any drama."
As a team, the Corsairs are confident in their ability to win, but Kauffmann stresses how the team must stay strong, focused, and together.
Sophomore co-captain Jutta Collet, who has played tennis her whole life, agrees that being strong as a team is important even in an individual sport like tennis and finds that having her teammates around helps motivate her.
"As team captains, we have to lead by example and keep the team together," said Kauffmann. Both captains have been playing tennis for most of their lives, and since playing at Santa Monica College, have developed a strong bond with their teammates.
Head coach Richard Goldenson has been at SMC for the last 11 years building the winning program; he feels that he has found a group of "smart, self-disciplined, competitive athletes" to represent SMC.
As a former tennis player himself, Goldenson has had many coaches over the years which is what he says has helped him develop his own style of coaching.
Robert Lansdorp, who has coached tennis stars Pete Sampras and Maria Sharapova was one of the coaches that influenced Goldenson during his playing days.
"You take a little bit from each teacher," said Goldenson, "Lansdorp is just one of the coaches I model myself after."
This year, one of Goldenson's methods involves stepping back and giving his players more responsibility to come to work motivated. "There is no perfect system to make things run smooth," said Goldenson. "I've had no rules this year."
Alluding to the trust he has in his players, Goldenson believes "They are self-regulating, knowing what they need to do to reach the top of their game."
At this point the season is more than half way over, and although the Corsairs got off to a dominant start, they understand that there are still a lot of important matches coming up beginning this Friday with their match at Santa Barbara.
"It's very important," said head coach Goldenson. "They are a tough team to beat."
Santa Barbara is currently second in the conference behind the Corsairs, and a loss could mean a possible tie at the end of the season and lower seeding in the playoffs at seasons end.
"We want to get the highest seed possible," said Goldenson. "These practices are more important than the games themselves, we have to bring our A game."
Hanna Sacher, a freshman from Agoura Hills, understands the importance of the upcoming match. In her first year with the team, Sacher feels there is added pressure on her to perform well down the stretch. She understands that the team had great success last season and doesn't want to be the one to let her teammates down.
"It's motivation for me because I'm new," said Sacher, "I don't want to let anyone down who was here last year."
After Santa Barbara, the Corsairs will have just 5 matches left before playoffs begin on April 15. "The competition is good in conference," said Kauffmann. "Even if you play a 5 or 6,that are still good, we can't let up."