Shipman earns historic award as tennis heads to tournament

Sarah Loesch

Women’s tennis is heading to the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament for the first time since 2013.

For six players on the team this will be their first experience in the tournament. In that group is freshman biology major Kelsey Shipman.

Shipman was named GLVC Women’s Tennis Player of the Week after her performance against Kentucky Wesleyan College, Saint Joseph’s College and McKendree University.

The honor is the first of her career and the first for any women’s tennis player at USI.

Shipman said she was very surprised by the honor because she feels she is just doing what she should be doing.

“I’m a freshman and I am playing at number five singles and number two doubles, so I’m just doing my job,” she said. “I’m winning at the bottom of the lineup.”

Shipman was surprised by the recognition, but head coach Keely Porter saw it as a nice response to the hard work Shipman has put in this year.

Porter said Shipman has steadily improved since the fall.

“The thing that is most exceptional is everything I ask her to do, she does,” Porter said.

Every change that she has made has worked for her she said.

“Sometimes there is a phase where you don’t do as well because you are making changes,” Porter said. “I think that has paid off for her.”

She said she figured the recognition came because she had won several singles and doubles matches in a row, but said the team record played a part in it as well.

“We do have the best record that there has been in awhile,” Shipman said. “Maybe that is what made them look at our team in the first place.”

Shipman said she doesn’t really know the past teams, so she doesn’t know why this is the first time the honor has gone to a USI player.

“It surprised me that this was the first one in USI’s history,” she said. “That’s crazy.”

Porter who is entering her 24th year as head coach, said the team is more disciplined this year than teams have been in the past, and it has a more united focus.

“They all play for each other; it’s really about being a team,” Porter said. “They all take responsibility whether we win or lose.”

She said there is not a lot of focus on individual records. After the last road trip, the girls said they did not know their individual score.

Porter said that’s really nice when it’s a team sport.

The team’s focus is now on it’s first match of the tournament against the number one seed Drury University Friday.

Porter said the honor is in going and it is an opportunity for the team to see the level of play they have to aspire to.

She is excited for what the future holds for the team, she said.

“My whole freshmen class are good kids and good tennis players, but they are just going to get even better,” Porter said. “It’s really nice to have that coming in the next couple of years.”

Shipman said beating the number one seed is going to be tough, but not impossible.

“If we can pull it out and win that, I think we could win conference,” Shipman said. “Whether this is our ending or not, I think next year is just going to be even better.”