Senior captain leads women’s tennis by example

by Jillian Gearin / Beacon Correspondent • October 15, 2014

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Though the winless Emerson women’s tennis team has had few occasions to celebrate this year, senior captain Jana Winfield has been a bright spot. 

In the Oct. 4 match against Smith College, the visual and media arts major won the Lions’ second match of the season, a 10-8 victory that went into a tiebreaker set. 

Winfield has been on the team since her freshman year, but tennis hasn’t always been a presence in her life—she started playing at age 13 after seeing her older siblings’ successes in the sport.

 “Considering I started later in life and taught myself [how to play], I mainly want to focus on improving,” said Winfield. 

While Winfield might not have the experience of some of her opponents, her mindset has helped her succeed in the sport, according to her doubles partner, Theresa Nelson.

“You can tell that she has great work ethic,” said Nelson, who has the only other match win this season. “Her matches are always longer and more competitive than the rest of the team’s.”

The team practices twice a week, but Winfield devotes more time to the sport, a fact which head coach David Hyte appreciates. 

“[She] always wants to improve her game on the court as well as in the gym,” Hyte wrote in an email to the beacon.“She is constantly working out off of the court and always practicing. She comes early to practice and leaves late.”

Hyte said a lot of pressure has been placed on Winfield this year.

“Jana has had a bit of a tough season as our number one,” Hyte wrote. “[But she] is always fighting until the end of the match, trying to figure out a way to win.”

And as captain, Winfield has to motivate not only herself, but also the rest of her team.

“I do rely on myself,” Winfield said, “but it does affect me when the other girls get down on themselves.”

Nelson said her doubles partner’s optimistic attitude has helped lead the squad.

“[She] is someone who does not give up and always has the mentality that she can win,” Nelson said.  

With less than a month left in the season, Winfield’s collegiate career is coming to an end, but she said is excited for the future. 

“I plan on living in California,” she said. “The weather will allow me to play everyday, and that’s what I want to do.”

Eight years after she started playing, Winfield still sees the sport as an escape for something that has followed her from her teenage years into adulthood.

“It’s fun,” she said. “It allows me to put energy into something other than homework.”