Game, set, match


Photo by Anna Mateffy

One is the enforcer, one is the conditioner and the other is the communicator.

These are the three identities that the UW-Eau Claire women’s tennis captains go by, but more officially they are known as Maddie Johnson, Maddie Rossebo and Renee Nelson.

All seniors at Eau Claire this year, these three come to practice every day ready to not only improve themselves, but also to do their individual jobs as captains to better the team and the teammates they work with every day.

“With this group of girls it’s hard to find anything that they just can’t handle,” head coach Tom Gillman said. “They are always positive and look to help out others before themselves because they are already successful.”

Captains for the Blugold women’s tennis team are normally voted upon each year. However, Gillman made the decision this season to make all three seniors captains.

Johnson, who Gillman described as “the bad guy,” or the “mother hen”, said she is in charge of making sure everyone is doing their job at practice, everything is staying on task and if there are any issues to bring it up to the coaching staff.

Nevertheless, besides working hard at being on task in practice, the girls also continue to work on conditioning as well as having fun while practicing and playing. Nelson said.

With this group of girls it’s hard to find anything that they just can’t handle,

— Head Coach Todd Gillman

“My job is conditioning, so I try to keep us in tip-top shape all year,” Nelson said. “But I also am the fun one.”

Although having fun with the game, working hard and staying on task are three important tasks when it comes to the game of tennis, Gillman said one of the biggest aspects is communication.

This is something that Rossebo, the third captain, focuses on during the season.

Rossebo said she is known as the communication girl when it comes to working around issues with the girls or class obligations, which helps keep the coaching staff in the know.

Communication is also something the team tries to work on in practice, along with the physical aspects.

Johnson said they try to keep practices pretty straight forward and similar throughout the year to keep the team working hard throughout the season.

A normal practice, Rossebo said, consists of a warm up, forehand drills, volley work, drilling on five or six different drills. Then near the end of the session the girls finish with match play and conditioning.

Nelson said the Blugolds are an extremely close team, and even if the girls are stressed with the extra responsibility and school, being with the team can solve that.

“I think we are a super close-knit team, and we are all best friends out on the court,” Nelson said. “The team really is our second family, so no matter how hard practice is, it’s always fun and a big stress reliever.”

Although the position as a team captain can be stressful at times for the girls, Johnson believes the benefits far outweigh the few drawbacks.

“The best part of being a captain is being able to lead the team and be role models for the younger girls as they look up to us,” Johnson said.

One may be the “bad guy”, while one is the conditioner and the other is the communicator. But when it all comes down to it, the Blugold women see themselves as family at heart while striving to do their best on the court while having a blast.