By CLAIRE TOBIN
Aerodynamic balls hurtling towards you as fast as a car, running on baking hot asphalt, and being under intense scrutiny are all terrifying aspects of tennis that Colorado College sophomore Caroline James enjoys more than most. “I love it,” James said. “I love going out [on the courts] and grinding and fighting for the win. There’s something awesome about leaving it all out on the court.” To James, tennis is the perfect mix of mental and physical challenge.
James is from Phoenix, Ariz. and began playing tennis in middle school. She quickly connected with the sport and has been committed ever since. “My middle school had an after-school program where they taught us the basics [of tennis] on little half basketball courts,” James said. Because James ended up loving both the coach and sport, she stuck with it through high school, winning four letters and helping her team to three championships. She also admitted that her high school tennis matches were fueled by Reese’s Puffs cereal. Supposedly the combination of crunchy chocolate and peanut butter led her to victory. Today, James has more mainstream fueling methods and rewards herself with Rastall brunch after a grueling practice or match.
James is a psychology major who is currently taking Research Design, a class she is thankful to be taking out of season. “Before the season starts, everyone is racing to get their hardest classes out of the way so that we can all focus during season,” James said. “We’re also trying to get into shape now so that we can have a jump start on the season.”
According to James, the majority of team bonding takes place in the months leading up to the season because the team is so small, and trust both on and off the court is essential. “The momentum of your teammates cheering you on in matches is huge,” James said, emphasizing the importance of the team getting close during pre-season.
CC tennis may be a small team but James insists it is a nonissue. “Our team is really small, but the size doesn’t matter. Only six people play in a match anyway,” she said. James also has a secret weapon that can help level the playing field when the team plays a larger school: she is left handed, which gives her a killer serve. “I can get great angle on it and run people into the fence sometimes,” James admitted with a laugh. Despite her kind and loving demeanor, James takes matters very seriously on the court.
The tennis season officially starts at the beginning of Block 5, but many of the athletes can already be found in the weight room and getting in some behind-the-scenes court time. Cold weather isn’t a deterrent, as they know the beginning of their season will be just as cold as it is now in December, if not colder. According to James, the practice schedule is intense. “We lift three days a week, and we practice six days a week.” Spending so much time on the court can be tiring, but James’ dedication and love of the sport provides her with the endurance to finish her season strong.
“I’ve always liked individual sports more than team sports,” James said. In tennis, if a match doesn’t go as planned, then the only person to blame is yourself, and she enjoys that accountability. Because wins and losses are inexorably tied to effort and work ethic, the CC tennis team works extremely hard to achieve their goals.
This year, James would like to see the tennis team move up in the conference rankings, but she also has broader goals for the future of the program. “The tennis program has been improving a lot in the past few years, especially the women’s team. I want us to keep up our work ethic and keep growing the program,” she said. Tennis has had such a positive influence on James’ life that she would like to see the program continue to have a positive impact on CC students. For now, James will continue grinding in preparation of the quickly approaching spring.