Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Women’s tennis attempts to pull itself out of current slump

Crimson Tide Photos / UA Athletics

Before every tennis match, senior Smith Hinton has to wear one thing in particular. It doesn’t matter if the match is indoors or outdoors, Hinton needs her visor.

“I always wear my hair the same,” Hinton said. “I always wear a visor. It would mess me up if I didn’t. I guess I’m a little superstitious.”

Hinton, a native of North Carolina, played multiple sports growing up. At the age of 10, she made the decision to solely focus on tennis rather than soccer. Eleven years later, it looks like she made the right decision.

One person Hinton credits for her success early on is her mentor Ally Baker. Baker, like Hinton, is a North Carolina native who once was a rising tennis star and turned professional at 16. A left foot injury cut her career short.

“She would take me to tournaments and would serve as my coach until I got to high school,” Hinton said. “She gave me a lot of confidence at such a young age.”

Most kids enter middle school trying to adjust to life away from elementary school. Hinton was trying to figure out what she needed to do everyday to get better at the game she loved. Ten years ago she instilled in herself a hard-work mentality that is still present today.

Hinton and the Crimson Tide will host No. 18 Florida on Thursday night as they look for their first conference win. Alabama is currently 0-5 in SEC play. Last weekend, the team lost a hard-fought match against its instate rival Auburn. Even though it didn’t get the results that it wanted, coach Jenny Mainz believes the team can continue to grow from their loses.

“We’re just trying to get better and better each week,” Mainz said. “I’m proud that the girls continue to work hard no matter the outcome. I like that they’re working on their … growth mindset of continuing to improve and working on the little things.”

All the teams Alabama has faced so far in conference play have been ranked. For Mainz, she believes rankings don’t really mean much at this point in the season. She is more focused on the camaraderie of the team, and likes to use a phrase that many of us have heard while growing up playing little league sports: “Just have fun.”

“Our team is really, really fun,” Mainz said. “They love working with each other and going to battle for one another. I always tell them that they have one of the biggest weapons a team can have, and it’s that they all like each other.”

Out of her 20 seasons coaching the Crimson Tide, Mainz considers this group of girls to be the most tight knit group of them all. For every match, Mainz does a match motivator. It’s where somebody on the team gets to pick whatever they want to do to motivate the team to perform at their highest level for that upcoming match.

Earlier this month at Kentucky, it was assistant coach Shelley Godwin’s turn for the match motivator. She took the whole team out to the famous Keeneland Racecourse, and her motivation for the team was to be free out on the court: “Let it run.” For the match on Thursday night, it is yet to be known who will be in charge of the match motivator.

One thing is for certain, Alabama is already motivated by not wanting to drop to 0-6 in conference play.

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