USTA Section: Pacific Northwest
Cooper Anderson - Sophomore
Alex Goode - Freshman
Eric Guenther (C) - Senior
Alex Sharpe - Freshman
Chelsa Tsujii - Junior
Tyler Vangrunsven - Junior
Teams Defeated: Washington State, Portland State, Eastern Washington
USTA.com: When did you discover that you had the talent to win as a team?
We have always known that we have what it takes. Our team works really hard right from the first day of practice in the fall, trying to find out who is serious about competing at the national level. From there, it is a lot of team bonding and getting to know each other and getting each other pumped up for Sectionals!
USTA.com: How does your team unwind after a day of matches?
By watching movies on TV from our hotel room in our pajamas. Team meals usually involve pizza or sandwiches from Subway -- that, of course, comes after the initial fight to see who gets to hop in the shower first and wash off the day's blood, sweat and tears.
USTA.com: When you qualified, how did you celebrate?
The moment we beat Portland State to clinch our Nationals spot, we all were so relieved on court that there wasn’t a big celebration, just a huge sigh of relief. Lots of smiles, too. Even some tears were shed along the way.
USTA.com: Tell us a bit about how your school is unique?
We have had the unique honor of being the only team in the nation to attend all 14 Tennis On Campus National Championships. It's pretty astonishing that this small Division II school in the wettest corner of the nation, with no indoor courts, can repeat this each year. It just speaks to how hard we work and how quickly we can come together as a team in the fall. It also reflects how much we love our sport.
USTA.com: How does your team fundraise? Do you serve your local community in a meaningful way?
We Vikings fundraise by sending out several newsletters throughout the year to family and community members, and we also participate in the "Back 2 Bellingham Weekend" for WWU alumni who come back for a weekend of reminiscing and golf.
We are also planning a Bellingham Open tennis tournament, with a draw for adults and for the 10 and Under Tennis kids that we have been volunteering with for the past several years in the Boys and Girls Clubs of Whatcom County.
USTA.com: If you were to list three specific things that need to happen in order to win a National Championship, they would be:
- Play with passion as a team. When a handful of players come together and unite behind a common goal, anything is possible.
- Fight. Every game has to matter, regardless of the score. Our format is very much a sprint and not a marathon. You don't have a set to get warm, so from the first ball, you have to go get it.
- Remember our bonds. Winning is easy, but the true mark of a great team and teammates is a group who are willing to lose together as a team, not as individuals. The bonds we have formed will last a lifetime, and become much more important than winning or losing.
USTA.com: How do you exhibit school spirit?
For our team it starts with wearing a lot of blue, always having our trademark Viking or "Western" on all of our gear. To us displaying our school logo not only shows where we come from, but where we have been and where we are going …which is to Nationals for the 14th straight year! We always try to come up with new chants to pump us up before matches and provide constant support to our players battling it out on the court.
USTA.com: Share with us a funny story about your team or team member(s).
Last year at Nationals we had a couple of our player get really sick on the crazy bumpy plane ride into Chicago for our layover. We all caused the airport McDonald's to sell out of their strawberry milkshakes because we were so queasy from the turbulence and each had at least three of them.
USTA.com Share with us an uplifting story about your team or team member(s).
Our captain, Eric, was honored to receive the award for USTA Pacific Northwest "Captain of the Year" last season for working with the kids in the Boys and Girls Club and the community in Bellingham, Wash. Eric personally felt great that he had a hand in getting kids involved in tennis from a very young age, and he never expected to receive such an award for volunteerism -- something he simply loves to do. It just goes to show that something as simple as spending two hours a week teaching kids tennis can make a big difference.