Court Coverage With Nina Pantic
April 13, 2011
While most students spend spring break on wild, party-filled adventures in Mexico without any responsibilities, the UCLA women's tennis was hard at work...in Hawaii. We were so lucky to get the chance to spend six days training in paradise thanks and staying at one of the top resorts in the world, the Mauna Lani Hotel and Bungalows on the Big Island. In addition to the hours of training and fitness, we also faced off against the University of Hawaii, playing two singles and two doubles matches. But the highlights of this trip had nothing to do with tennis (sorry Stella). We were provided an insane amount of food. It seemed like mountains of pastries, croissants, pancakes, french toast, omelets, fruit, breads, cereals, eggs, and meats. And that was only the breakfast buffet. McCall Jones and I became obsessed with the malasadas, which is a fried donut, while Maya Johansson was extremely keen on the chocolate croissants. Besides eating, we would all head to the beach and pool, which were literally steps away from our rooms. There were even hammocks to lounge on and Hawaiian music and storytelling to enjoy. Our last day gave us enough time to rent snorkeling gear and dive into the bay. Unfortunately, some players lacked the confidence to actually swim farther than three feet from the shore while claiming to be scared of sharks. Although no one was seriously concerned of skin cancer and one senior even ended up with second-degree burns and has still yet to fully recover (the consensus is that she deserves it).
Although it seemed as if we weren't meant to ever leave our Hawaiian paradise, we waved goodbye to our malasadas and hammocks and left for the airport. However, we were a solid 15 minutes away when we realized we forgot something...or actually someone. Rance Brown, our assistant coach, was left behind. Our laid back, cheery driver turned around and after some missed turns eventually made it back to collect our lost coach. We drove away again and another good 10 minutes into the drive we realized that we forgot the gear bag. Seeing as it would be really difficult to ship the giant, overweight bag full of tennis balls, random gear, and fitness equipment, we had to turn around again! Coach Bill Zaima always makes us leave for the airport obnoxiously early (as in three hours earlier than International flyers) and we usually resent this habit, but this time it came in really handy. The superstitious few in our vehicle were freaking out seeing as turning around is bad luck, especially twice. So we had a momentary panic attack on takeoff because the plane was jumping in circles from the wind and turbulence. I never had a fear of flying before UCLA but paranoia tends to pass itself onto the closest person. Seeing as we all sit together on flights, the fear becomes contagious and spreads like a disease, and with all our flying lately it's become a serious issue. Our Washington State/Oregon trip a few weeks later included five flights in three days, most of which were on propeller planes in poor weather. FYI we survived!
Lucky for us, the flights for this season are almost to an end. Speaking of endings, we held our Senior Day just recently during the Cal/Stanford weekend at home. Seniors Andrea Remynse, Maya Johansson, and Noelle Hickey received accolades, flowers, and gifts on court to commemorate the closing of their college careers. I think all three are ready to graduate and move on with their lives, either to law school (Andrea), France (Maya), or to more tennis (Noelle). I'm confidant all three will succeed in everything they do and I hope they get the best gift we can give them, an NCAA championship ring!
Seeing as how it's April, there's no way I can not include a little story about April Fool's Day. Even though most of the team is supposedly too old for pranks, some can't resist. Coach Sampras was actually the most clutch player in our little April Fool's stunt. We started the tradition of pulling a joke on the freshmen last year. We messed with Pamela Montez's mind last season for a solid 24 hours but this time around the victim was Courtney Dolehide. We all were at the mall shopping and eating, basically wasting time before yet another flight, and planned on meeting earlier than the announced time so that we could pretend to leave our freshman behind, and blame her for it. We all piled into the vans and eagerly awaited Courtney's frantic texts and calls. Stella managed to keep the story going for quite some time and tried to convince the rattled freshman that there wasn't time for a car to turn around and her irresponsibility was costing the team money on a taxi or possibly a later flight. The joking spirit continued later on at the airport. Student trainer April Anthony and I tried to prank Noelle and convince her that she had to do her rehab program right that instant on the airport floor. April's name means nothing when it comes to April Fool's day because she proved incapable of maintain a straight face and it was hard to sell the joke above her loud giggling. Regardless, Noelle almost sprawled out on the floor and got into position with water bottles as weights. And Courtney thought she was in huge trouble for a solid 15 minutes. Mission accomplished!
Our latest trip in this busy part of the season was to play University of Arizona and Arizona State. We managed to sweep U of A's handicapped team (they have had eligibility problems) in hurricane force winds. Then we drove to Phoenix to fight the rain and squeak out a tight match against the Sun Devils amidst freezing temperatures and ominous storm clouds. Now we have our last match of the season to look forward to against the Trojans on Friday at 3:00 p.m. at the Marks Tennis Center. Go Bruins!
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