Photos C/O Martin Bazyl

McMaster University’s tennis teams wrapped up their Ontario University Athletics season at the beginning of the Reading Week. After a hard fought battle, both the men’s and the women’s teams finished in fourth place. In the bronze medal match, the men’s team lost to the York University Lions 7-0, while the women lost to the Lions  6-1.

[spacer height=”20px”]For fifth-year women’s team member Priti Gujadhur, getting to this point has been a journey in itself. First starting playing tennis thanks to her father who loved the sport, she has had a love-hate relationship with it ever since. She did love it enough to look into the team prior to coming to McMaster.

“I had a friend who went to Mac and was on the team, so I reached out to the coach Peter [Patiakas] prior to my entry,” said Gujadhur.

After visiting McMaster and meeting with women’s head coach Patiakas, she knew this was the school she wanted to play for but was not too sure what she wanted academically.

“I walked into my first year and I just felt really lost,” said Gujadhur. “I knew that I loved to play sports, but coming into school I didn’t have any focus in terms of academics.”

One undergraduate degree in political science and a post-grad degree in sports business management later, she has finally found solace in her master’s degree: international relations.

Looking back, Gujadhur knowns now that she did not need to have all the answers right away.

“If I could go back and tell my first-year self one thing, it would be to just enjoy the process and to have fun playing tennis,” said Gujadhur. “I feel like because I always wanted to win so bad, I forgot that I was so lucky and privileged to play on a university team. There are so many people who play sports, and get injured and are never going to play again. So I’d tell myself to just be humble and enjoy the ride.”

As a master’s student, this past OUA finals was Gujadhur’s last one, and it is still such a surreal feeling for her. Though it may not have ended in the result she wanted, Gujadhur’s and the team’s improvement from last year’s OUA finals is something she is pleased with.

“This is our best finish in a long time, so that in itself is a big accomplishment,” said Gujadhur. “Finishing fourth was something to be really proud of because we have a lot of young really talented players on the team, and they’re just going to continue to develop and get better.”

These young players include first-years Julia Schuster, Adele Lee and Maya Emerson, who all contributed in the team’s efforts. During their singles matches on the first day, Emerson won her three-set match (2-6, 6-4, 6-1), while Gujadhur and Lee both beat their opponents handedly, both shutting out their opponent 6-0. The three helped once again to win their doubles matches, as Gujadhur and Schuster won their match 8-6, while Emerson and Lee defeated their opponents 8-1.

“The fact that they came on to a university team and won so many matches is something to be super proud of,” said Gujadhur.

Unfortunately, the young team did not have what it took to go all the way to the top. Dropping their semi-final and bronze medal matches, they had to settle for fourth place.

“As a team, obviously we were a little disappointed that it wasn’t the result that we wanted, but I think we can still hold our heads up high and take the positives away from the weekend,” Gujadhur said.

“Now that it is all coming to an end, it really doesn’t feel real yet,” Gujadhur added. “I’m a really competitive person, so [tennis] was almost like a release for me. Though we do have another shot at the national qualifier coming up in November.”

These nationals are sanctioned by Tennis Canada, and will take place on Nov. 16-18. Both the men’s and women’s team will have  another shot at getting to the podium. After this, that will be the end of university tennis for Gujadhur, but she has no plans on putting down her racket just yet.

“Tennis really gets on my competitive side and because I’m such a competitive person it has always been like a release for me,” said Gujadhur.

Luckily for her, tennis is one of those sports that she does not have to put down after her eligibility is up, and as of now, she has no plans to stop.

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