By Samantha Thompson

The UC Santa Cruz women’s tennis team said goodbye to its senior teammates in a way all its own last Thursday, during the team’s final home match of the season. The Slugs’ four graduating players took the court as part of the singles lineup, after teammates forfeited their positions so the seniors could go out big in the last home match of their collegiate tennis careers.

“It was so cool to have that support from [my] teammates,” senior and No. 3 doubles player Lauren Tisdale said. “It felt amazing.”

The idea of giving spots to the seniors started with No. 1 singles player Jessica Ruth.

“I originally wanted to step down because Kelly Kerr, who works extremely hard in practice and always gives a hundred percent, hasn’t really gotten a chance to play this year,” Ruth said. “This being her last year, I thought it would be really great if she got to represent us in the lineup in our last home match.”

Ruth brought the idea to Coach Erin Ness, who saw the gesture as an appropriate way for all the seniors to end their run with the Slugs. Ness then proposed the idea to three more singles players, all of whom embraced it and willingly gave up their spots.

“I just graduated in June,” Ness said. “So I know what it’s like to have your Senior Day after you’ve put in those four years. I just really wanted to make it special for them. It was definitely sad seeing them play their last home match at UC Santa Cruz on those courts, but at the same time it was just a great occasion.”

Family, friends, and fans, including the championship-winning men’s team, filled the stands holding posters and flowers for the departing seniors.

“There was definitely a sense of pride in wanting to play for these guys,” Ness said. “It wasn’t just on an individual basis. The day’s theme was basically, ‘we play for those four and nothing else matters.’”

The team lost, ultimately, 8-1, to Division I San Jose State. No. 3 doubles pair Lauren Tisdale and Emily Cook won the only point of the day, ending the match with an ace.

Despite the loss, Ruth noticed an intensity with which all her teammates played that day.

“We just wanted to win so badly for our seniors and for our last home match of the year,” Ruth said. “We came up a little short, but it was still an amazing match.”

The Slugs have one match left in their season, against Sonoma State on Saturday. From there, the team is headed to regionals and hopes to fight their way into nationals.

“Results will take care of themselves when you work hard, and that’s what we always do,” Tisdale said. “That’s what Slug tennis is about–working hard and playing the best tennis you can on any given day. And what happens will happen.”