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Oxford women's tennis clinches nationals for fifth year
The Oxford College Women's Tennis Team clinched the NJCAA Division III National Tennis Championship for the fifth time.

The Oxford College Women's Tennis Team proved that it's not only the third time that's a charm--for the fourth consecutive year, and fifth overall year, the Eagles clinched the NJCAA Division III National Tennis Championship.

From Nov. 2-4, the women’s tennis team traveled to Peachtree City, Ga., to compete against nine other teams. Oxford swept all six singles matches and all three doubles matches in the tournament for the third consecutive year. Additionally, the team totaled 45 points, the most for an NJCAA DIII team in national championship competition dating back to 2000.

“Coach never pressures us to win, just to do our best,” says Delaney Anderson, a second-year student from Decatur, Ga., majoring in religion on the pre-nursing track, who had to recover from an injury before Nationals. “Thank you to coach and our assistant coaches for believing in us and encouraging us to do our absolute best.”

The team is led by Coach Pernilla Hardin, women’s and men’s tennis coach and instructor at Oxford College, and assisted by Anna Hardin and Ina Jones. Pernilla Hardin has been at Oxford since 2013.

Coach Pernilla Hardin says that her team of eight women – four first-year students and four second-year students—prepare well during the school year in order to be the best team at the National Championship.

“They focus not on winning but being the best student athlete they can be, doing all the little things right,” Hardin says of her philosophy. “Just like in school—if you do your homework, you will do well on tests. Working hard, getting fit, and being the best tennis player they can be makes them well prepared to be the best.”

In the early fall before classes at Oxford begin, student athletes have an intensive period of pre-season practice with training and conditioning. Once the school year begins, students practice for a couple of hours each weekday during the school year and have matches over part or all of the weekend. Some even come early or stay after practice—and even make their own extra practice times and watch tennis pros online.

“I made use of every single minute of practice,” says Preethi Dharmavarapu, a second-year student from Aurora, Ill., majoring in biology on the pre-med track. “I worked on my weaknesses and tried to make them the best I ever could. My goal for every practice was to improve and challenge myself.”

The tennis year begins near the start of the school year for practice, and in September, the team begins to compete at home and travel to places such as Mississippi, New Jersey, and Illinois to compete against other Division III and even Division I schools.

“We’re the only Division III team in the southeast, so most of our competition is Division I teams,” Hardin says. “We have a pretty rough schedule. We try to play matches where we can grow as an individual in our game. It’s very important.”

She boasts that the team has an “incredible” work ethic.

“I stress the process as far as being prepared,” Hardin says. “Bottom line, if you do all the right things for the ten weeks leading up (to Nationals), then good things will happen. We are prepared for the pressure.”

The students, most of whom played tennis in at least high school, say they prepare both physically and mentally for Nationals.

“I kept thinking only positive thoughts and telling myself to take it only one step at a time instead of jumping to conclusions,” says Dharmavarapu, who has played tennis for nearly 10 years, from middle school and continued her first and now second year at Oxford. “Nationals was so much fun. It was stressful and nerve-racking, particularly because all of my matches were really close, but it made the win that much more rewarding.”

By winning Nationals, the team captures a record winning streak for four consecutive and five total National titles—in 2011 and in 2015, 2016, 2017 and now 2018. In 2014, the team took second place.

Additionally, Victoria Jones, a first-year student from Chapel Hill, N.C., earned the title of best in the nation with her win—becoming the first first-year student to capture No. 1 singles since 2015, when Oxford’s Hayley Keats also claimed it.

Other highlights from the 2018 National Championship include:

  • Jones teamed up with fellow first-year student Cody Lu to also capture No. 1 Doubles. Lu also was victorious in No. 2 Singles for the Eagles.
  • Second-year student Ally Render repeated as the No. 3 Singles champion for Oxford.
  • Dharmavarapu claimed No. 4 Singles one year following her No. 5 Singles crown.
  • Delaney Anderson and Dharmavarapu teamed up to capture their second consecutive No. 3 Doubles championship.
  • First-year student June Woo was awarded the Spirit of the Competition Award.
  • Pernilla Hardin was awarded the Coach of the Tournament Award for the second time in the last three seasons.
  • The five titles for the Eagles breaks an all-time tie with Mercer County (N.J.), who won four titles between the years of 1999-2005.

The women’s tennis team will practice in the spring, while the men’s tennis team will compete. The men’s team is a four-time DIII National Champion.

“I love being part of a team with a really diverse and fun group of girls who share my academic and athletic passions,” says Joyce Min, a second-year student from Granada Hills, Calif., majoring in anthropology of human biology. “I am really going to miss going to practice every day with coach and the girls on the team. I hope that the first years from this year continue to be on the team next year and experience being the team as a sophomore because you really come to appreciate all the opportunities and benefits that come from being a student athlete at Oxford.”

2018-19 Oxford College Women's Tennis Roster

Delaney AndersonSecond YearDecatur, Ga.
Preethi DharmavarapuSecond YearAurora, Ill.
Victoria JonesFirst YearChapel Hill, N.C.
Cody LuFirst YearAlpharetta, Ga.
Joyce MinSecond YearGranada Hills, Calif.
Ally RenderSecond YearJohns Creek, Ga.
Jenna ShinFirst YearBrecksville, Ohio
June WooFirst YearMahawah, N.J.

For more information about Oxford’s tennis programs, visit the Oxford College Athletics website.

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