The Oxford College women’s tennis team posed with the championship trophy at the end of the three-day NJCAA Division III nationals tournament held November 2-4 at Georgia’s Peachtree City Tennis Center. However, it was not an unfamiliar photo for the dominant ladies’ team; in fact, it was their fourth time lifting the same trophy in the past four seasons.
After winning their third consecutive championship last fall, the girls sought to maintain their dominance this season. Though the team graduated several starters, they retained an impressive sophomore class and added freshman recruits Victoria Jones, Cody Lu, and Jenna Shin. Despite their talented roster, the team struggled in its first tournament of the season, losing all but one match. Jones recounted, “Mississippi was a wakeup call for us, but we knew what we needed to do going forward.”
The team returned to form over fall break as they cruised to victory at a New Jersey tournament, winning all of their matches. Such a resounding win sent a clear message to their nationals competition, many of whom were present: Though the team had started the season poorly, they had their sights set on defending the national title.
After concluding the regular season with a 5-4 record, the team took the court at Peachtree City Tennis Center. Following two days of competition, the Eagles had already accrued enough points to secure a victory, led by dominant performances from Jones, Lu and sophomore Ally Render. For the third straight year, the team swept all nine divisions to win. In addition to the victory, the Eagle’s head coach, Pernilla Harden earned the distinguished Coach of the Tournament award. On the honor, Harden said, “My number one thing is helping students be the best they can be.” Freshman June Woo also earned the Spirit of the Competition award for her exemplary attitude throughout the competition.
Beyond the memorable victory, however, the team grew closer together over the course of the season. “Winning nationals was great, but the team experiences were far more worth it,” Lu said. “We really became a family.”