Strella Navalta, Junior English Education major is no newbie to the game of tennis. With her power shots and support from her teammates she has been playing tennis since 2009 in high school and since she transferred to Valley City State University her sophomore year of college.
The Viking tennis season is usually during the fall but their largest sectional tournament falls in February, according to Navalta. “It takes place in Lakeville, Minnesota. This is a big tournament for us because it determines the top three teams, and therefore they get to proceed in Nationals,” said Navalta. Last year the team placed fourth, just shy of the Nationals trip to Arizona. “This year we have a better chance since now it will be based on the top 4 teams who win Sectionals,” she explained.
There are seven tennis players for the Vikings tennis team. Recruitment for a larger team is one of their team goals for the upcoming seasons. The most difficult part of tennis comes during the winter months, explained Navalta. The team travels to Fargo in order to practice at the Courts Plus facility but the courts aren’t reserved until 9 p.m. resulting in a late night for the student athletes.
Navalta has set goals for herself for the season. “My individual goal is to win at least 75-80% of my matches this year,” she said “and just to kick butt at every tournament we go to!”
When it is game time the team supports not only their own teammates but their opponents as well. “I also love hearing all the team members cheer for each other on the court because it just shows our
support for each other in front of the other teams,” she said. She knows there is always place for improvement and while her power shot can angle and opponent to one side of the court losing focus is a struggle for Navalta. “My weakness has to be my attitude when I’m losing a match. I get really down on myself when I’m doing so hot on the court and then that ends up messing up my focus,” she said.
The team has played at Gustavus’s campus in Minnesota, Fargo North Dakota, and Superior Wisconsin. They will be in Fargo, North Dakota on October 24 for the Bison Invitational, and at Gustavus on October 30-31, explained Navalta.