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The Scarlet & Black

Women’s tennis concludes historical season at conference

Lily+Hamilton+%E2%80%9919+was+awarded+the+Midwest+Confrence+Elite+20+Award+for+her+impressive+tennis+career+and+high+GPA.+Contributed+photo.
Lily Hamilton ’19 was awarded the Midwest Confrence Elite 20 Award for her impressive tennis career and high GPA. Contributed photo.
Lily Hamilton ’19 was awarded the Midwest Conference Elite 20 Award for her impressive tennis career and high GPA. Contributed photo.

On Friday, April 25, Pioneer women’s tennis concluded a historic 16-8 season, the eighth-highest victory total in program history, with matches against Lake Forest (5-0 Lake Forest) and Cornell (5-0 Grinnell).

Lily Hamilton ’19, one of the team’s two captains, was awarded the Midwest Conference Elite 20 Award at the tournament, which is given to fourth-years participating in the conference tournament of their sport. The award recognizes both academic excellence in the classroom and performance on the tennis court. Hamilton was chosen because of her impressive tennis career and her high GPA.

The award is the latest in a line of accolades under Hamilton’s belt — she has been consistently recognized for both academics and sports, having been selected as a multi-year intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete. She sports a combined 125 wins in her career – 70 in singles and 55 in doubles.

Hamilton, who has played tennis for the duration of her time at the College, is honored to have received the accolade — but looking back on her experience, she says she’s most proud of the team’s tight-knit community and the importance of fostering a supportive group dynamic. “We focused on [creating] a relaxed vibe and [making] sure that tennis was fun for everyone, and I think that helped a lot in an atmosphere where, sometimes, sports can feel like a weight in addition to everything else in life and school. We were also a really small team – We started out with eight [players] and ended up with nine. I think that was good for creating a positive team culture where everyone was on the same page, and we felt pretty close,” she said.

Fellow athletes Abby Nielsen ’21 and Judith Fan ’19 echoed Hamilton’s sentiments. “This year, we not only worked hard and improved on the courts, but I felt as though by the end we really came together and were able to communicate openly with one another on what was working and what wasn’t,” Nielsen wrote in an email to the S&B.

Players like Fan, who rejoined the team after taking a break from tennis, quickly felt the impact of the team’s commitment to promoting community. “The team dynamic is one that is very collaborative and supportive. My teammates always have my back. They encourage and support me when I am down and celebrate with me in my accomplishments. This semester, they welcomed me to the team as a newcomer,” Fan wrote.

Fan and Nielsen worked together during the season finale in doubles play against Cornell College, securing the top spot with an 8-1 decision. Fan ends her career with a 65.8 percent winning percentage in singles play (the eighteenth-best in Grinnell history) and a 73 percent winning percentage in doubles (the fourth-best).

As Hamilton and Fan move on from Grinnell tennis, they emphasize above all else continuing to propagate the team’s community spirit. “Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to win,” Fan wrote. “Rather, enjoy the time that you share with your teammates and leave everything on the court!”

Hamilton echoes that sentiment. “When I think back on my experience in tennis, it was great to have athletic success, but having the opportunity to build relationships with some really exceptional women… has been incredibly rewarding for me,” she said. “I hope I’ve instilled that… as a value for the team that will continue on in the future.”

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