Written Senior Perspective - Erica Oosterhout, Women's Tennis

Written Senior Perspective - Erica Oosterhout, Women's Tennis

The 2019 Senior Perspectives is the 14th in a series of annual collections. Senior captains and representatives of teams at Harvard have been invited to contribute viewpoints based on personal experience from both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard.

Erica Oosterhout
Quincy House
Harvard Women's Tennis
Concentration: Statistics

As I am writing this on my way to my last tennis match as a Harvard athlete, I reflect on my time as part of Harvard women’s tennis and, I realize how much I have learned about myself sport into a team one. When I started playing tennis at the age of three, tennis was always about me. The work I put on the court determined my own wins and losses. But, this changed as soon as I agreed to play with an “H” on my chest.

It took time for me to realize that being part of HWT meant playing for more than just myself. I remember playing against Dartmouth my sophomore year in the first match of the Ivy League season. I was in the third set of my match, the teams were tied 3-3, and I was the last match on. On court, I have always been stoic, rarely showing my opponent any emotion, good or bad. But with my team standing on the court beside me, cheering me on with every point, I couldn’t help but scream for joy after I hit the winning shot. It was one of the best matches of my collegiate tennis career, not because I played well, not because I won, but because of what it meant for the 12 girls standing next to me.

The past four years have taught me what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself. In junior tennis, if I lost a match, I could slunk off to the car and sulk. Now, my job after any loss or win is to put the racquet down and starting cheering for next teammate. I learned to be one of those girls standing next my fellow teammates. “Come on Harvard, let’s go Crimson,” are reverberations I will miss. 

Being part of a team is more than just cheering. It becomes part of who you are. It requires committing to hours of training, both during and after the season, so you can be the best player possible for the team. It requires being a disciplined student, so you can mentally separate life across the river when it comes time to practice. It requires taking one for the team as you play down a spot or sit out a match so someone else can play. It also requires being there for your teammates outside of tennis.  

As captain, I was given the privilege to lead my team this past season. Having the confidence to take on such roll shows how much I have grown. I credit this to my past team captains who were models of great leadership and to my coaches and current teammates who show confidence in me to be their leader. 

I want to end by saying thank you to my family for introducing me to this amazing sport and pushing me to be better every day even when I was too tired to push myself. I want to thank Coach Green for trusting in me, teaching me and mentoring me. Thank you to all the assistant coaches, trainers and team assistants who kept me going on the court. Thank you to the Friends of Harvard Tennis that have given back and made Harvard tennis such a special community. Lastly, thank you to all my teammates, past and present, for your support and friendship.You will forever be my girls on the side as I will be for you. It has been an amazing four years, and I am excited to take what I have learned here on to the next adventure. Go H, Go Harvard, Go Crimson!