Students and supporters laid out blankets in front of the tennis courts Sunday to cheer for the Mills tennis team in their first home match of the season against Holy Names University Feb. 23. For three hours the teams hurled balls across the net, Mills ultimately losing 0-9.
“I think this match was a good start and a good way to check in at the start of the season. It’s a nice benchmark to see how we’re going to move forward,” head Coach Loke Davis said. “We will have the opportunity to play this team again later in the semester. I really enjoy measuring growth, so I’m really excited for the team to put in some work between now and the next time we meet up with this team.”
While the team did not win any of the double or single-sets, junior Alice Hewitt came close to winning her single against Holy Names’ Jessica Ho. Hewitt and Ho were neck and neck for about an hour after the other players had finished their matches.
Singles are scored best two out of three sets, each set consisting of six games. Hewitt won the first set and Ho won the second set, but in the interest of time Hewitt and Ho finished with a tie-breaker round, first to ten points, rather than completing a third set.
“I’m chronically the last person on the court,” Hewitt said. “It’s really tough because you get really tired and you know you’re the last one on the court, so you have to keep yourself up. It’s a lot of mental game.”
While the lengthy match may have been a challenge for players, spectators responded positively, cheering Hewitt on to the last serve.
“It was a relaxing Sunday afternoon to come watch tennis,” Mara Harwood, a sports medicine intern, said. “I feel like tennis is a sport you have to be there to be engaged in, and I’ve never had that opportunity to be close up for a game. It’s actually really interesting.”
Halfway through the match, Davis led a serve-a-thon where viewers were welcomed onto the court to practice serving. Players arranged cones on the far side of the net and anyone who hit a cone was awarded a raffle ticket for the athletics, physical education, and recreation (APER) raffle that will be held at the end of the semester. The raffle prize is yet to be announced.
Davis hopes to see an increase in community involvement at future tennis matches.
“I think traditionally tennis has not been much of a spectator sport, at least at the collegiate level,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to getting more spectators coming out. It’s always really helpful and exciting when we get support from students, and anyone else who wants to support the team. I look forward to growing tennis as an event that people want to attend on campus.”
The next home match is scheduled for Friday, Mar. 14 against Notre Dame de Namur, and on Saturday, Mar. 15, they will play at the Sacramento State Invitational.