Freshman Hanna Kirkorian and Sophomore Alice Hewitt were at the top of their game during separate respective matches against Holy Names University and Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) two weeks ago.
Kirkorian, of Fresno, CA, has been playing tennis competitively for about six years. This is her first year competing with Mills. While preparing for each match, Kirkorian maintains the same routine the night before to get into a competitive mindset.
“I visualize a lot the night before a match,” Kirkorian said. “During a match, I don’t let one point get me down. I always remind myself, ‘Shake it off, there’s always the next point.’”
Kirkorian competed against Holy Names University on Feb. 23 at the No. 3 spot for doubles and singles. Tennis coach Loke Davis said Kirkorian embodied Zac Purchase’s phrase “It’s not taking part that counts, or even winning, it’s about raising your game and doing extraordinary things,” which was the team’s guiding quote for the day.
Kirkorian, along with her doubles partner, freshman Christie Yeh, dominated their doubles match and won 8-2. In singles, Kirkorian changed her game plan during the second set, and battled to clinch an additional two games from Holy Names.
“I ended up losing the match,” Kirkorian said. “Although the scores don’t appear high, the individual points of each game in the match were well fought out, and it was a fun match to play. My opponent was a great player, but I began to frustrate her when I became more consistent with my shots in the second set.”
Kirkorian lost the singles match — 6-1, 6-3 — but she put up quite the fight, according to Coach Davis.
“Hanna was the final match still on court after a three-and-a-half-hour-long day (four-and-a-half hours, if you count warm-up!),” Davis said. “The longest matches are always indicative of a hard fight and it was clear that Hanna battled hard. In practice, Hanna’s been a positive and supportive teammate. She has been a wonderful addition to our team this year and I look forward to seeing her continued growth this season.”
Hewitt of San Diego, CA started playing tennis at a competitive level in middle school at a local tennis center’s co-ed team, and has been playing for about 14 years, with this being her second year with the Mills team. Hewitt exhibited the same fighting spirit as Kirkorian in the Cyclones’ 6-0 sweep of the NDNU Argonauts at the March 1 home match. At the No. 1 doubles spot, Hewitt, with doubles partner first-year Gracie Stark, won their set 8-0. At the No. 2 singles spot, she started off her first set with a 1-4 deficit. Hewitt turned her game around and earned five consecutive games to win the set 6-4. She went on to win her singles match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1.
“I stayed really focused,” Hewitt said. “I started working on congratulating myself on the small accomplishments: for each point, every time I really tried for a ball. This built the confidence I lost after losing four games straight in the first set. I knew I could beat my opponent if I could just execute and play my game. I focused and I started to win. It felt really good.”
Hewitt’s feel-good attitude translated well to her teammates and coach.
“I am proud of the action Alice took to change her style of play and shift the momentum of the match,” Coach Davis said. “It takes a lot of courage and pluck to make such a huge turnaround at such a critical point in the set, and Alice proved her ability to buckle down and take care of business. She has been showing more mental and physical toughness in practice and it was clear to me on Friday that it is translating into her match play. I look forward to seeing her continued development throughout this season.”
Along with Coach Davis, Hewitt is also anticipating how the rest of the season will play out, while maintaining her positive attitude.
“I feel like as long as I try to play my game and have positive self talk it doesn’t matter as much if I win or lose,” Hewitt said. “The experience will be a positive one.”