Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Tennis shouldering spring season

Gabe Sadoski
UW-Whitewater’s women’s tennis team posing with the 2023 WIAC tournament trophy Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023 at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, WI

Resilience remains a recurring trait for UW-Whitewater’s women’s tennis team’s illustrious history through persistent play and continuous courage on the court. 

The outdoor season brings different aspects to the game when transitioning from the fall. Mental blockage, physical demands, environmental factors, and match strategy all disguise themselves in separate facets for the players.  

“[Outdoor] tennis, we call it real tennis because you’re battling the elements,” head coach Frank Barnes said. “The lobs are a lot more of a factor. Longer points because the courts are slower and the air is different. The ball moves slower so you play longer points, so we have more of a grinding mentality…The outdoor game tends to wear opponents down.” 

Despite the ensuing challenge with the change in seasons, adaptation is welcomed and executed masterfully by the Warhawks. 

“If they’re working hard, the transition is easier,” Barnes said. “I have noticed the last couple of years after break the women have come in pretty sharp, so that says a lot for the players. They’re dedicated and did some stuff on their own. Just less errors right off the bat, the ability to play longer points.” 

Coming off their 17th consecutive WIAC title, the Warhawks soared into Spring with a tough beginning to their outdoor season. Taking on tough Division I opponents over the weekend in Northern Illinois University on the road and UW-Milwaukee at home, Whitewater grasps every opportunity served their way.  

“I’m really looking forward to better competition,” junior No. 1 singles player Cassie Lee said. “I feel like there’s no pressure and I can just come in as the underdog and it’s kind of nice that they might not be expecting much. You kind of surprise them.” 

Lee won her first WIAC Player of the Year award last fall following first place finishes in the No. 1 singles match and No. 1 doubles match paired with Gracie Ha in the 2023 WIAC Championship.  

“I’m not afraid to work hard,” Lee said. “Even if I’m down, I will never give up. So that’s an attitude that I always like to have on and off the court. That being said, keep a positive attitude as well, just knowing that again, it’s never over ‘til it’s over. That’s something that really stuck with me in the fall.” 

Through Lee and the Warhawks’ continued success, fifth year senior MacKenzie Lindow’s animated leadership exemplifies the long-standing tradition that is Whitewater’s tennis program.  

Cassie Lee comes off a strong fall performance being named 2023 WIAC Player of the Year. (Gabe Sadoski)

“She definitely has a different perspective on life,” Lee said. “I get to ask her about a lot of advice just going through my years here. I can just know that she’s always going to be positive and I can always go to her for reassurance or whatever that may be. She’s a really good resource for me to have here.” 

“I think just leading by example, leading with good attitude and I’m just trying to rally up the girls around me, you know?” Lindow said. “I try to stay really positive and give everything I got to every drill. Especially this being my last semester, like I see how fast it goes.” 

The East Troy, Wisconsin, native battled with believing in herself on the court the first four years but found her rhythm and answered the call. 

“I was student-teaching my last semester and I didn’t get to play a ton and I didn’t really feel like I ended on my own terms,” Lindow said. “For four years I played with very little confidence in myself, so coming back I felt like I had something to prove to myself. COVID obviously was a hindrance at the time, but looking back, it’s given me the greatest year of tennis that I’ve had in my college experience. So I’m super grateful for that.”

Lindow’s first four years were spent on the bench but still staying active on campus, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, and in the community through volunteer work. Her gratitude and persistence paid off heading into this season. 

“Everything you look for in a student athlete, she’s got it. It’s a real luxury as a coach to have someone like her,” Barnes said. “She wanted to get back to the team and she felt confident that this would be her year to be a starter and she was. Without her, I don’t think we would have won conference.”

Lindow’s leadership will carry the Warhawks throughout the outdoor season with further matchups down the road against fellow top DIII women’s tennis programs in the University of Chicago Maroons and Washington University in St. Louis Bears.

Whitewater’s WIAC tournament win gave the women’s team their 17th consecutive conference title and 18th overall with head coach Frank Barnes at the helm. (Gabe Sadoski)
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About the Contributor
Gabe Sadoski
Gabe Sadoski, Assistant Women's Sports Editor

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