I had the chance to sit down with this year’s first Cougar of the Week. Anna Gates (‘20) is the Junior Captain of the Women’s Tennis Team. I’d like to thank Anna for taking the time to sit down with us. If you’d like to support Anna and the rest of the tennis team after getting to know her here, you can do so on Monday, Sept. 24th at 4 PM at our home courts.
Scarlet: How have you taken to your leadership role on the team?
Anna: “It’s been like a really exciting experience for me. I came on as the only freshman on the team, and it was sorta like I had all of these older like college students who were helping me with not only the transition to college tennis, but also the transition to college courses and how to be away from home. I kinda took that and I wanted to be that person to kind of get everyone accustomed to campus. It can be hard to come on [to the team] where you have tennis every day. So it’s kinda like we became a family. More than the tennis aspect [of leading] is the group aspect and like the community aspect”.
Scarlet: How long have you been playing tennis?
Anna: “That’s actually a funny story. I actually started playing when I was a junior in high school. I played a little bit when I was younger with like my parents and stuff, but I joined the boys team at my high school because they didn’t have enough players and I played another sport in the fall when the girls season was. I used to play volleyball, which didn’t really work out. I kind of got injured and they were like, ‘well you should play tennis in college instead”. So I got more serious about that my senior year and then contacted the coach here. He was like “oh yeah we’d love to have you here”. He was very nice and welcoming and so that was very nice”.
Scarlet: Did playing on a boys team before playing on a girls team affect how you transitioned to Clark at all?
Anna: “Yeah, kind of, it’s definitely weird playing on the women’s team, but I like it a lot more. Because everyone is like… there’s a lot less unnecessary competition. I kind of got my, not tenacity, but everyone tells me I play like a boy – which I kind of like, but it was interesting coming onto a women’s team. Everyone was just like super nice and I was just like “what”? Everyone was super sweet which was good”.
Scarlet: Was your love for the game inspired by anyone in particular?
Anna: “Yeah, so I had a boss and kind of like a coach at a summer camp I previously worked at. He was like ‘you should really play on your team at the high school’. So he was really the one to convince me to play on my team at the high school, and I played with him over the summer and he was a really good coach and we had a good relationship. He was really pushing me to play in college, which was really appreciated. He’s always been really good about everything and [he checks] in. My high school coach contacted the coach here, and she had played in college, and she thought this would be a good way to transition into college knowing that I was a homebody. She thought that having a tennis family at school would help with that”.
Scarlet: Have you taken up any other Clark clubs or activities?
Anna: “I’m a little bit a part of SAB. My roommate is a huge part of it. I go to that sometimes and I help out. But I should get into more things *laughs*”.
Scarlet: What is a fun fact about you?
Anna: “Umm, I’m trying to think. I really like elephants. That’s a really big thing about me. Like if you go into my room, it’s like elephants everything. What else? I’m trying to think. I really like being outside. I live on a farm at home, we have goats. They’re cute, so I really just like being outside and being with them”.
Scarlet: What is one thing you would like Clark to know about you?
Anna: “I think for Clark Athletics, we are kind of an underrepresented team. That’s why I was so excited to talk to you. Like the tennis courts are so far away and even the professors are like, “oh you’re on a club sport here”? We really have to work to convince them to miss classes for matches. I think that has gotten better over the time that I have been here, especially with the new Sports Information Director, but it’s nice to be recognized as well.”
Scarlet: Is there anything in your athletic of Clark life that you are looking forward to in the near future?
Anna: “I’m really excited for the season. I feel like we’re building, and everyone is always like “it’s a building year”, but I think with our doubles teams like we’ve always not really had set doubles teams. But this year we have set doubles teams. We had a huge win last Saturday and it looks like we’ll really be competitive this year which I’m really excited about.”
Scarlet: Do you have a favorite color?
Anna: “Yeah! I really like teal and navy blue.”