Oregon women’s tennis team senior Alyssa Tobita has used an underdog persona to piece together one of the best careers in program history.
Tobita is from Mililani, Hawaii, which came with some disadvantages during the recruitment and development process. Being outside the continental United States, it was harder for her to compete against schools in other states.
“Alyssa’s kinda always been one that’s enjoyed the underdog story,” head coach Alison Silverio said. “She’s been an underdog in many ways. Since she’s been here, she’s been a topdog.”
Tobita is currently ranked No. 43 in singles and is part of two different top-125 doubles pairings. She is ranked No. 34 with her old partner, Shweta Sangwan and is ranked No. 88 with her current partner, Rifanty Kahfiani.
Her name also fills the record books. She is third all-time in wins with 77, and is half of the second and third winningest doubles-pairs with Sangwan and another former partner, Nia Rose.
Tobita has won at least 18 matches every season, with her sophomore season being the winningest with 21. The senior saved her best season for last, going 18-10, with six of those wins against nationally ranked opponents.
Although she struggled mid-season, she really turned it on in crunch time. Tobita won her last five matches to close out the regular season – three against top-125 opponents.
“Since she came here her freshman year, she’s bought into what we’re about and what our culture is,” Silverio said. “This year has been no different. She is one of our most reliable players. She is one of our most consistent players. All the credit to her for the work and the preparation that she puts into every match.”
Before Tobita and Silverio arrived at Oregon, the program struggled to win matches. After a 7-15 finish in the 2014 season, Oregon needed an infusion of fresh talent and new leadership. They got both of those in new-recruit Tobita and the hiring of Silverio.
“I came into the program with coach Alison,” Tobita said. “Before that, we were bottom of the Pac-12 and didn’t know what to expect. Now to be here and play at this high of a level, it’s kinda unreal.”
Tobita was already signed before Silverio was hired, but that doesn’t mean the first-time head coach was unaware of the talent she was inheriting.
“She was a top-level recruit,” Silverio said. “I couldn’t wait to work with her. It’s no surprise to me, any of our staff or her teammates that she’s having the success she is.”
This year, the No. 30 Oregon women’s tennis team is finishing its best season ever. The team is 15-9 and awaiting its seeding in the NCAA tournament. Although the Ducks made an appearance last year for the first time in 10 seasons, postseason dreams are still a new and exciting prospect for the up-and-coming program.
Earlier this season, the Ducks were ranked as high as No. 17 in the nation, the highest in program history, and Tobita is one of the main reasons. Tobita has won her match in 12 of the Oregon wins this season.
Through her adaptability, leadership and versatile playing style, Tobita has formed many great relationships on the team.
“She’s great,” Kahfiani said. “I love her.”
Oregon’s topdog is projected to be playing a lot more matches for the Ducks. Besides the NCAA team tournament, Tobita could get an invite for both the singles and the doubles tournament.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack