As redshirt senior Holly Fleming and junior Courtney Dolehide stood outside the Los Angeles Tennis Center after a practice, they burst into laughter and imitated freshman Catherine Harrison’s little peculiarities. They referred to her tendency to shout at herself during matches out of frustration.
During a UCLA women’s tennis match, shouts can often be heard berating and criticizing Harrison, but usually these comments are coming from Harrison herself.
“Cat is a little bit off the rocker on the court … This is probably why she’s so good though. She’s such a perfectionist. Every mistake that she makes just drives her crazy. It doesn’t matter what the score is. You can just look at her face and think she’s losing 6-0,” said Dolehide.
The two players found the behavior comical because they knew all too well that Harrison is not the only Bruin with these peculiarities or superstitions.
Fellow freshman and Harrison’s doubles partner Kyle McPhillips also can be found speaking to herself in matches when irritated.
“Tennis is a lot more psychotic than you’d think,” McPhillips said with a laugh.
Many players on the team have their own individual quirks. Sophomore Skylar Morton has to tap the fence with her racket after every point. Dolehide has to regrip her racket before every match. Sophomore Kaitlin Ray avoids touching white lines on the court at all costs. If the team wins a tournament, whatever pasta sophomore Robin Anderson eats on the first night of the week, she has to eat for the rest of the week.
Fleming mentioned Dolehide’s habit of tapping her foot on the back court on every serve. Dolehide interjected that it was for balance, but Fleming jokingly insisted that the tendency was for no reason as they once again burst into laughter.
The superstitions don’t stop at the court, or with food, however. The girls are even superstitious about their hair. “If someone does their hair a certain way – sometimes people ask me to braid their hair. Then, I have to braid their hair every day,” Fleming said.
These oddities aren’t limited to individuals.
The team also has shared superstitions that everyone will take part in. “We have to do our team cheer last when we have home matches,” Dolehide said.
The need to have the last cheer resulted in a standoff between teams in a prior match.
“Yeah, it happened last year when ‘SC came here because they know that we liked to do our cheer second. We were both just waiting and staring at each other and then eventually, obviously we won,” Dolehide said.
Despite how quirky the behaviors get, the players said the coaches understand them and allow them, albeit with substantial amusement toward all of it. While the players acknowledge some of the behavior may seem silly, they insist it all plays a role in their consistent performance.
“Tennis is so based on routine, and it’s so mental. … Everything has to be the same for everybody,” Dolehide said. “I think we all have different personalities on the court.”