The Statesman's Jimmy Gilligan sat down to talk tennis and more with junior co-captain of the tennis team, Kaitlin Wohnoutka.
The following interview has been edited for clarity.
You’re going to be graduating after just three years at UMD with the tennis program. What’s the story behind your early graduation?
I took a lot of credits in high school that counted for over a semester’s worth of college and then I took some summer courses each year so I was able to pretty easily graduate in three years because I have three more years of school I have to go to.
Having it be your last year here, does that make it feel a little less weird that you’re a captain as a junior?
Yeah, it was kind of odd because we don’t have seniors at all, so I would have been the oldest captain with Drew De for two years in a row, but yeah it’s kind of different knowing that I’m graduating, but that I’ve only been in school for three years like Drew has. We’ve always been together so next year will be kind of different.
How do you guys reconcile with having no seniors as well as a first-year head coach on the team?
Well the fall was kinda different because we were trying to find a new coach, so me and Drew had to kind of step in as playing-coaches for the fall season. Sometimes it was hard for us to not be one of the peers. When we had to get stuff done at practice we actually had to take charge, but I think we handled it well, and I think we’re loving the new coach (Jessica Worden). She was a great addition to our team.
How early are these morning practices?
We decided to have 6 a.m.s because we didn’t have a coach yet and we didn’t know when to schedule our classes around, so we figured 6 a.m. would be the best because then nobody would have to miss any practices. The beginning was definitely hard, and now I think it’s getting hard at the end to try and get ourselves to go to bed at 9 o'clock, but it is nice getting practice done in the morning because then we don’t have to worry about it all day.
You made the UMD Athletic Scholar list for having the highest GPA of any tennis players last season (3.91). How do you juggle playing tennis and keeping up on your studies?
I would say self control in the way of knowing I can’t go out to all the events, like sometimes the team will go out to eat several days a week or whatever and I have to pick and choose which events I can go to so I can get my homework done. But I also think staying busy honestly helps a little bit because then I know when I have my free time off, I know I have things to get done, so I don’t waste very much time. I guess it’s just knowing your priorities.
How tough is it to play 15 of your 17 home games on the road?
We don’t mind so much driving to, like, St. Cloud, that’s not so bad. But Bismarck, North Dakota, was kind of a struggle because one of the girls had to drive the other vehicle for us. We really do like the home games because we know our surroundings a little better. We just have more fans come to home matches.