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Young talent defines Calvin women’s tennis

Friday, June 01, 2012

By Andrew Knot

Jordan Ipema With four freshmen, five sophomores, two juniors and no seniors on Calvin women’s tennis team, the squad was short on experience but not lacking for ability.

A major part of that talent came from the same place. Junior Jordan Ipema and freshman Megan Visser, though separated by two years, each played their high school tennis at Kalamazoo Christian High School, where they helped the Comets to a third-place state finish.

For each of them, Calvin represented an opportunity to improve on their tennis successes and to continue the memory-making of their high school teams.

“Our high school team did pretty well,” said Ipema, a psychology major concentrating on pre-occupational therapy.

Megan Visser“And that team had a lot of fun. There were a lot of personalities,” added Visser.

Now, at the conclusion of the 2012 campaign, both Visser and Ipema can reflect on the places, some of them entirely unexpected, that the sport of tennis has taken them.

As a freshman, Visser took over at the top singles spot and, facing the cream of the conference crop, tallied a 5-14 record. She also posted a 7-13 mark at first doubles with partner and classmate Sam Reitsma.

Visser, who hopes to study nursing, acknowledged the difficulty of playing against the MIAA’s toughest competition—many of them seasoned with four years of playing experience— but remained optimistic for the future. She sees every match as a unique opportunity to learn.

“It was tough. But I learned something new every match and that prepared me a lot for years to come,” she said.

The last freshman to play first singles for the Knights was Visser’s immediate predecessor, 2011 graduate Melissa Oosterhouse, one of the most celebrated tennis players in school history.

As one of two upperclassmen on the team, Ipema was responsible for carrying on the legacy left by Oosterhouse and past seniors. After playing fifth singles for much of last season, Ipema stepped into a third-singles role in 2012, notching a 5-15 record. She also played third doubles and, with sophomore Lauren Schlagenhauf as her partner, recorded an 8-6 record.

As a team, the Knights went 7-16 against a very challenging schedule. The record was good enough to earn a fourth-place finish in conference and qualify for a sixth straight trip to the MIAA tournament semifinals, which both Visser and Ipema acknowledged as an unspoken goal of this year’s team.

As for next year, Visser and Ipema hope to build on the improvements of 2012.

“We definitely improved as a team and individually,” said Visser, who, despite limited experience playing doubles, enjoyed unexpected success on the doubles court. “Doubles was a lot of fun. It was great to play with Sam. I think we surprised ourselves sometimes.”

Like Visser, Ipema enjoyed a favorable experience playing doubles, a sign of the strength of the team’s camaraderie.

“We grew a lot closer this year and have already formed strong bonds,” said Visser. Ipema anticipates further relationship building next year, with the opportunity to keep the same squad in tact.

“It will be nice to further develop those relationships,” she said.

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