Oregon women’s tennis player Shweta Sangwan fought off Portland native Erin Larner in a marathon third set, leading her teammates to mob her on the court after clinching a 4-3 victory over No. 23 Northwestern.
“I have clinched matches before, but I wouldn’t say a crazy three-all match like that where I am so down,” Sangwan said. “You can’t really practice those. I think it just comes down to your personality. My personality is more like a fighter. I am going to fight every point.”
The Feb. 10 match against Northwestern was familiar for Sangwan because the last time the Ducks defeated a ranked opponent was 20 matches prior, when they beat No. 25 Washington last March. Sangwan earned the deciding point in that match as well, earning a reputation for herself.
After coming to Oregon at the age of 16, Sangwan has now positioned herself as a leader thanks to match-winning clutch performances and a change in attitude.
“When we are in these situations, for it to come down to her, it’s poetic,” head coach Alison Silverio said. “Because she deserves to be in that position. It was a great atmosphere to see her in and be able to capitalize on that opportunity.”
Sangwan struggled at the end of last season. That struggle continued at the beginning of this season, as she dropped her first three matches in October. This led to a change from a must-win attitude to a team-first, enjoy-the-moment one.
At the end of last season, Sangwan was dropping matches in the third set.
“I just made the change,” she said. “Whatever I tried last year obviously didn’t happen to work. So I have to have a different mentality going into it this year. I’m just trying to enjoy it. I think the mentality of going into a match and being able to rely on your team and ‘we’re all in this together’ seems to really help me, because one day I might have a bad day and one day they might have a bad day, but at the end of the day it’s gonna be us who get it done.”
That enjoyment includes spending time with her teammates off the court, as well as making time for herself. Sangwan loves to paint when she has time in her busy schedule and is currently using YouTube to learn how to beatbox.
Sangwan credits freshman Paiton Wagner and junior Daniela Nasser for encouraging her intensity.
“We are the more fiery ones on the team,” Sangwan said. “They get loud, and I get loud. We create this energy. Especially early morning practices we try to have that mindset.”
This is not to say that Sangwan is taking it easy — she is working harder than ever. Sangwan is currently 11-7 in the 2017-18 season and is 13 wins shy of cracking the top-10 for Oregon singles career wins.
“Shweta is one of our hardest workers on the team,” Silverio said. “She is one that is putting in the extra work. She is not just checking off practice and checking off individuals. She is coming out and intentionally working on parts of her game.”
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