Shamara signs off

Senior captain Shamara Duwearatchi talks about the women’s tennis historic season and shares her personal story with tennis.


Cole Mayer

Senior Shamara Duwearatchi quick on her feet at Baseline Tennis Center Arena at the University of Minnesota.

Gino Terrell, Sports Editor

Senior captain Shamara Duwearatchi concluded her women’s tennis career last Saturday, April 25, to finish a season where the Pipers tied a program record for most wins in a season.

“Shamara has a really fun presence and she’s a great player,” sophomore teammate Lilli Denison said. “We’re really going to miss Shamara and she was a huge component to our winning this year, just on and off the court.”

Piper women’s tennis finished the 2015 season with an 8-11 (2-8 MIAC) record this season, which is the most since the 2007 season. As the Pipers move forward, all players but Duwearatchi will return next season.

“This is the best year in like eight years…which is great, to see the improvement throughout the years from being a freshman to now being a senior, it’s great to see the change,” Duwearatchi said.

For Duwearatchi, this was an experience that almost did not happen.

Duwearatchi started playing tennis in elementary school when her father drilled her into playing, and she eventually quit.

“I hated it,” Duwearatchi said. “I hated it with a living passion.”

She eventually picked up tennis again at Bloomington Kennedy High School and started to enjoy it, however, she did not plan on playing when she arrived to Hamline.

Jon Henning, women’s tennis head coach, said he was down an athlete and needed someone to fill in. Henning was connected with someone who was friends with Duwearatchi’s high school tennis coach. He contacted that coach and he gave Duwearatchi a ringing endorsement, so Henning reached out to Duwearatchi.

Eventually, Duwearatchi decided to show up to practice and after her first match at number six singles against St. Catherine she was inspired to continue.

“It was a great feeling going into a third set tiebreaker in my first match against a really great team,” she said.

Although she lost the match, she gained confidence from that experience and continued to play the sport. During her junior year, she helped the team win the most matches since 2007 when they went 6-18. This season, she was the captain who catapulted the team to a five match win streak and an 8-11 overall record to tie the program record for wins.

“She took that risk and wanted to play,” Henning said. “She had the ability, she was a good tennis player. She just had to commit herself and it’s amazing to see that now she’s a captain and playing higher in the lineup. I don’t think she would have ever imagined that when she stepped on campus.”

With the most wins since 2007, Denison said they could have won more. Throughout the season the team had been switching doubles partners and Henning said at the season’s end is where they found their best matchups. Denison said had they played how they did near the end they would have saw different results playing against conference foes St. Mary’s and Bethel.

“There’s two that we should have definitely won,” Denison said. “I think we’d beat St. Mary’s and been closer to Bethel.”

Overall, Denison said she is glad to see the team reach their full potential this season.

“I’ll remember it [this year] as reaching our full potential at the end of the season. This is how we should have been all year and last year we never really did,” Denison said.

Denison said she looks forward to next year to see the team further improve, however, she said they will miss Duwearatchi as she was an integral part to helping the team improve.

In retrospect, Duwearatchi said she is glad she joined Piper tennis and stuck with it. She said tennis taught her how to time manage and her coach also encouraged her not only on the court, but off the court when it came to extracurricular activities and her departmental honors.

“I love the sport; I had fun playing with the team  going to practice, working with Coach. Tennis made my Hamline experience…if I didn’t have tennis I wouldn’t be the same right now,” Duwearatchi said.