In The Locker Room with Ariana Abayomi, Emma Brezel and Olivia Hay


Ben Shepard, Photo Editor

Junior Emma Brezel (left), senior Ariana Abayomi and junior Olivia Hay

Sarena Malsin, Sports Editor

This week, the Review sat down with senior women’s tennis captain Ariana Abayomi, junior captain Emma Brezel and junior Olivia Hay to discuss their fall season, the dynamics of a small sports team and their experiences as student athletes.

What did you see the team coming out strong with for your first tournament?

Ariana Abayomi: I think doubles was really strong.

Olivia Hay: Yeah, we didn’t get any new players this year, so we didn’t have to try incorporating any new doubles combinations. I think that might’ve been one of the reasons why our doubles was pretty good.

Emma Brezel: I agree. We did doubles combinations that had already been working out for us. I mean, we were a little bit rusty at the beginning, but we were able to figure it out towards the end and usually win. So that was pretty good.

It seems like you guys have a small roster this year. Is it smaller than usual?

AA: I feel like 11, what we had last year, was crazy. That was big. In my experience of being on this team, there’s been seven or eight tops. So six people is probably the smallest I’ve ever been on.

OH: That being said, it’s not an unusual number of players and not much different from other teams in our league.

Are there any benefits to having a small team?

AA: I think we’re all pretty close on it, and we get along really well. There’s some sense of urgency now, as our coach says, because there’s a smaller number of people, so we have to be on each other more.

EB: I feel like we have more pressure to play our best all the time because we know everyone’s counting on us. We can’t say, “So-and-so is going to win for us, so we can drop our game a little.” We have to be on top of [our game] all the time, which I think is good for the team in the end.

What are you looking to accomplish this weekend or improve on from your last invitational?

AA: As a team, I’d like to have at least two teams — one singles and one doubles — to get to Sunday [the last day of the tournament].

EB: I think I’m focusing on doubles this weekend because that takes a little bit more of figuring out in terms of who you work best with. It’d be nice to see how each team does, and then be able to see what they do really well together, and then switch the teams up. I think that’ll be most important for the rest of the season. I think this tournament is a nice place to see where you are in terms of the rest of your season.

How does having separate fall and spring seasons shape the way you guys play and strategize?

EB: Fall’s kind of nice because you can get a little competition in you and see where you are, and then you get this time off and think about what you need to work on. Then you can go into the spring ready for action. I feel like if I was just a fall athlete, I would feel really rushed, and I would have no time to see what I need to work on, then fix it, then start over again. Because the fall counts but not for a huge part — it doesn’t count towards getting to the conference tournament or getting to the NCAA championship or anything like that. It’s really nice to have, now that I think about it.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association honored Yeowomen’s tennis this summer for academic excellence. How does academic focus factor into the team dynamic?

EB: We all work really hard. What’s nice about having a small team is we all know how much school means to each of us, so we know if it’s Saturday night and we have a tournament the next day, people will be studying, which makes it easier to do that. And then I don’t feel so lame studying by myself because we all go to [Slow Train Cafe] together.

How do you guys personally balance being varsity athletes and serious students?

AA: I think having a busy schedule makes you try to be on your responsibilities a little bit better.

EB: I think most of us grew up in high school having sports practice every day from 4 to 7 or something like that, so it’d be kind of weird for me to go to college and have this big block of time that I’ve literally never had in my schedule. I think it makes me plan out my day a little bit more carefully because I don’t just have two hours where I can go and do nothing.

OH: I think tennis for us is also an important time away from studying — a good stress release.

What are your favorite subjects or classes? What studying do you get excited about doing?

AA: I’m really into biochemistry right now; I’m a Biochemistry major, so I guess that’s a good thing to be into.

OH: I’m an Anthropology major; I’ve taken a lot of really great classes in the Anthropology department. I also study Japanese, and I really like the Japanese department. At this point, there’s like eight people in my class, so that’s really cool.

EB: I’m also a Biochemistry major, and I really like it, but I’m taking this English class right now with Sandy Zagarell, who’s amazing. It’s been nice to get away from doing quantitative work and think outside the box and not necessarily [have] a right answer. I can just be more creative.

Do you guys have any personal or team goals for this year or season?

AA: I’m just looking to get through this weekend.

OH: Last year we kind of ended on a rough note, so fall is about getting everyone back on their feet a little bit.

AA: We’re definitely just picking up the pieces right now.

EB: I think we had a good season; it just didn’t end the way we wanted it to. I don’t want it to discredit all the good work we did do. This fall season is just proving to everyone that we are a really good team and we can function with the small amount of people that we have. Even though it’s small, each person on the team is a quality player and I think we’re all [at] a very similar level, which I think is really nice. And I think showing everyone that that works is really important.