Being the only freshman on a collegiate sports team is never an easy task, and Jennifer (Jenny) Adams had her share of troubles, but with the help of her coach and teammates, she was ultimately able to have a successful season on and off the tennis court. “Jenny was a great addition to the team this year. She had a great first season and I expect she will only get better and better each season,” Coach Rachel Aldridge said. “It can be tough as a freshman not knowing anyone, but Jenny has really become part of the team and our little tennis family.”
The Whitworth women’s tennis team had an unexpected start to the season, as Jo Wagstaff, the person who recruited Adams, decided to retire after being the head coach of the program for 30 years. This came as a shock to the players, who were not expecting Wagstaff to retire in December before the spring season.
Aldridge, a former Whitworth tennis player and assistant coach, was soon named the new head coach of the program. This coaching change left a lot of doubt in the mind of Adams, who had not even started her first season before the coach who had confidence in her decided to retire.
“I was definitely frustrated because the offseason was really poor in communication and teamwork,” Adams said. “Having both our main coach and one of our assistant coaches retire made me feel uncertain of why I even came here originally. However, our assistant coach Rachel took over and it turned out to be a great season with great coaching.”
In the end, Jenny enjoyed having Rachel as a coach and had a phenomenal freshman season- starting almost every match she was healthy in at singles and doubles. Adams would typically start at the No. 4 spot in singles, and usually play in the No. 1 doubles match partnered with junior Taylor Peña.
Adams is currently a nursing major, who chose Whitworth not only for it’s good tennis program, but also for the strong academics. She is originally from Renton, Washington, and is happy her parents are not too far away when she needs some support dealing with tennis issues or her busy academic and social life off the court.
“Several people helped me adjust to Whitworth. My parents were great when I felt nervous about my tennis game or school, and everyone on the team was supportive of me,” Adams said. “Coach Rachel sat me down several times to refocus, and it has been helpful.”
Jenny’s success on and off the court as a freshman not only came with the help of her parents and coach, but also came from her “amazing” teammates. Jenny went through some difficulties during the season, from adjusting to the new coach, dealing with “nerves” during matches and even suffering an injury near the end of the season.
In addition, according to Adams, her teammates really stepped up and made this season a good experience for her- which showed in her achievement on the court and in the classroom. Peña, Adams’ doubles partner, was someone Adams found influential.
“I loved playing doubles with Jenny because we moved well on the court together and our game styles (my consistency and her volleys) complemented each other really well,” Peña said. “Jenny has such a welcoming and hardworking spirit. I was able to help her with encouraging her as my teammate and calling out strategies, like where/how we should serve or return.”
Senior Saryn Mooney was also a player Adams said really welcomed her as a freshman and had a positive influence on her first year. Mooney only got to play alongside Adams for one year, but she has a few memories about her that she says will be hard to forget.
“Each girl is assigned an animal their freshman year over spring break and has to wear a special shirt during the warm ups for a match,” Mooney said. “The shirt is quite embarrassing, but Jenny was a champ about it. It was rough for her to do by herself, but she was willing to laugh.”
Adams’ season was cut short with a couple weeks to go due to an injury to her rib area. Even though Adams was not able to help her team win the Northwest Conference Tournament, she is optimistic about her next three years as a Buc.
“After spring break I injured my serratus anterior and intercostal muscles on my side. Mentally, I feel a lot better, but ending my year with injury was not what I would have wanted. However, I am excited for next year and ready to start fresh again.”