Oregon women’s tennis is a program built through a “Duck Army”
There are two things you are guaranteed to hear when the Oregon women’s team plays.
One is Shweta Sangwan yelling, “Come on,” to herself after every point, keeping the energy up for her teammates. The other is a chant often led by senior Nia Rose in between courts, where she yells “Go,” which fans respond with “Ducks.”
Tennis is often thought as a quiet, individual sport, but that is not the case with the No. 17 Oregon women’s team. In fact, since the beginning of the season, every match seems to be getting louder thanks to the team embodying a simple motto: “Duck Army.”
“Our one goal is to bring a lot of energy no matter what,” senior Alyssa Tobita said.
Head coach Alison Silverio explains that the “Duck Army” works as the team’s motto, not just for their mascot; “Duck” spells out rules the team lives by.
Discipline, United, Character, Killer mindset. Those are the proponents that make up the motto.
“There is a consistent message every day within our team from our coaches to all our players of ‘when in doubt, go to D.U.C.K.,’” Silverio said. “That is what our program is built on.”
At 17, the Oregon women’s tennis team is ranked higher than ever before, cracking the top-20 for the first time in program history.
Although always a close team, this year’s leaders have used what they learned from graduates Marlou Kluiving and Paloma Gomez to mold this young team.
“I think [Gomez and Kluiving] did a phenomenal job in setting the program in the right tone,” Sangwan said. “So now I see that as a responsibility like they did and being able to carry that forward.”
And that leadership, guided by Silverio, has effectively morphed the team into what they refer to as the “Duck Army,” where cheering each other on is the norm.
“What we have is each other,” Silverio said. “They kinda came up with it on their own. It was just we’re gonna band together and be so united that no one can break us. … The energy has just kinda been a part of that foundation, that is a part of our program.”
Silverio, now in her fourth season, and assistant coach Elizabeth Lumpkin Robinson, in her first, value high-character, team-first players, making it easy for freshman to transition into the team.
“Every year, more energy has kinda come on to the team, and I think it really helps us,” Tobita said.
The “army” is definitely battle-tested too, winning two of its last three home matches 4-3.
Both Sangwan and freshman Julia Lilien have been mobbed by teammates after closing out win-or-lose matches.
“I felt amazing,” Lilien said after clinching the 4-3 win over Baylor. “The team pulled me through throughout the end of that match. I felt the energy really pick up with the rest of the team helping me get through that match at the end.”
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.