Playing a sport in college was never a question for Geneseo’s Meghan Wethington, which one was the bigger question.
A standout soccer and tennis player, Wethington knew she always wanted to play a sport in college because sports have been such a big part of her life.
“I felt burnt out on soccer and tennis is a sport I can continue throughout my whole life,” she said. “The aspect I love about tennis is that it is new, and I felt I had much more to improve on and learn in the sport. With soccer, I felt I had peaked.”
Once her decision to play tennis was made, Wethington decided to take her talents just down the road to Augustana College, where she liked the idea of a small college that focuses both on academics and athletics.
“It was later in my senior year?(when she made the decision) because I really thought I would go to Carthage College in Wisconsin, but I had a change of heart major-wise and Augustana has a wonderful undergraduate program for speech pathology.
“The coach also was very welcoming and thought I would fit in well. It also worked out well being close to home so my parents could attend matches.”
Wethington said her experience with the Augustana women’s tennis team has been great.
“We have really great team chemistry and have become close friends,” she said. “We do goofy things like have themed practices to spice things up.?It is just a fun environment.”
Wethington says what she enjoys most about tennis is doubles play and the challenge.
“I love the fact there is a challenge in tennis to control your emotions. You are the one in control and can’t blame other people,” she said. “Sometimes it is very frustrating, but I have tried to adopt a better attitude to be thankful that I am have the opportunity to play the college level.”
During her freshman year, Wethington went 9-4 in singles matches and 5-2 in doubles play.
“My freshman year went well, I thought, because I came in and I competed, but only played a few matches at No. 6 and exhibitions,” she said. “I was right on the edge at the No. 7 or 8 position and I knew I wanted to be in the lineup more consistently, which pushed me to work harder.”
In her sophomore season, Wethington finished at 5-2 in singles and 4-2 in doubles’ action.
“I got a little more playing time, but still played a similar role to my freshman year,” she said. “It was nice to watch some of the senior players and how they stepped into their roles.?I got good experience even from watching.”
Last season, she had a record of 11-16 in singles and 11-15 in doubles.
“That was definitely my break-out year,” she said. “I jumped significantly to the No. 1 doubles’ team and No. 4 singles.?It was exciting for me, but I also put a lot of pressure on myself to be one of the team leaders.”
To prepare for her senior year, Wethington has been trying to stay active over the summer between hitting a few times a week to working out everyday.
“My friend, Alyssa Patterson, made me a nice workout plan, I have been taking lessons and will play in the Bettendorf Open, a local tournament right before the season starts,” she said.
The biggest highlight of her career so far has been this past spring when Wethington and her doubles’ partner were down 7-8 and came back to win 9-7.
In singles’ play, a highlight for Wethington has been playing a late-night match where she lost the first set, won the second and third set tiebreaker to clinch the win for Augustana.
The biggest challenge Wethington has had to overcome was this past season when she jumped into her new role at No. 1 doubles and No. 4 singles.
“I struggled quite a bit and was hard on myself,” she said. “I think it was hard for me not adjusting as well as I would have liked. Tennis is so much of a mind game and I got caught up in that.”
Wethington said what really prepared her to play tennis in college is her experience she had in Geneseo and the opportunity to play both singles and doubles in high school.
“That was one of the nice aspects of my high school experience because it prepared me for college where we play both singles and doubles,” she said. “I also valued (former coach) Scott Hardison’s leadership, guidance and help motivating me to play tennis. At the time I didn’t think I was good enough to play, but he was an advocate for me.
“There were times when I was frustrated, but I wouldn’t say I have any regrets. I have enjoyed my time and had a good support system, which made it worthwhile.”
Wethington and the rest of the Augustana tennis team opens play for the 2012 season at 4 p.m. Aug. 30 at Grinnell.
“I am going to have fun regardless of how the tennis goes,” she said. “I want to do well and I am excited to play and spend my senior year with the team.
“I am looking forward to just competing again. I’ve played against my teammates, but not in a competitive situation. I am excited to get off on the right foot and make my senior year the best out of the four.”