The ladies of the Michigan women’s tennis team never leave
empty-handed after a long Tuesday practice.
Every player is given a blank yellow piece of paper to take
After most weekend competitions, each of the girls writes down
three lessons learned and three areas of improvement; then the
squad discusses these things at the team meeting held during the
“Every week there is some sort of evaluation,” coach
Bitsy Ritt said. “I think a good way to do that is to have
everyone participate, rather than us telling them what we
Of course, most practices for the girls do entail conditioning
and physical play. However, the team also takes part in a good deal
of mental deliberation and discussion every day.
Ritt emphasized the value of hearing everybody’s input on
“What everybody thinks is important because everybody
makes a contribution,” Ritt said.
As a senior, Kavitha Tipirneni is no stranger to the team
meeting and evaluation experience.
“The key thing is being aware, tactically and
technically,” Tipirneni said. “There is no point in
playing and not talking about what you learned
Tipirneni acknowledged the overwhelming mental aspect of the
game and how this evaluation process facilitates open communication
“It’s important our whole team is on the same
page,” Tipirneni said.
Coming to Michigan after playing tennis in Canada, freshman Kara
Delicata is a newcomer to this evaluation process.
Though the evaluation tradition emphasizes individual attention,
the girls feel that the team meetings create a sense of unity when
everyone has shared their ideas. Delicata called this
“speaking your piece.”
Whatever one calls it, the players and coaches alike expressed
the telling advantages of this team tradition.
“When you are playing, sometimes you don’t realize
things you are doing that someone else notices,” Delicata
said. “By recapping together, it helps the learning
Delicata says the learning process includes both wins and
Ritt echoed this philosophy and explained that, though it is
important to assess failures, successes should not be
“I think you can learn from good performance by
recognizing the reasons why we performed well,” Ritt
Aside from evaluating individual performance, these team
meetings also include discussion about opposing competition.
Overall, Ritt believes the sessions are integral to her
“Any time you can sit down, talk and share ideas, it is
good for team chemistry,” Ritt said. “At some point,
you have to just step back and evaluate.”