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The reasons the Women's Soft Tennis Club is strong

Ms. Yuri Ishii/ Ms. Mariko Yasukawa/ Ms. Mai Moriya

When they considered that they would be able to play against the same players at the same place, their success was probably promised. The Japan Student Soft Tennis Championship was held in June 2011. In the final, they fought against Kansai Gakuin University with whom they had met at the final and were forced to give up their dream of victory three years ago.

Mai gives a drubbing using a wide variety of skills.

In each team competition, two teams play three matches, and the team with the first two wins is the winner. The Mariko Yasukawa-Yuri Ishii pair played the first seesaw game and won it in the end. Riding on the wave of this success, Mai Moriya who played in the singles match in the second round recorded an overwhelming victory of 4-0. They made their dream of three years come true with an unexpectedly easy landslide victory that marked the first championship in the club history. "We definitely wanted to make a comeback, so we are very, very happy," the three say in harmony, smiling.

Mariko the captain is the spiritual pillar of the team.

Do you all have a competitive spirit? "Yes, especially me," Mariko the captain immediately answers. "But the same applies to Yuri, right? As we play as a pair, we have similar ideas, so we can understand each other without speaking." What is this exactly like, Yuri? "If we make a mistake in offense, we repeat the same approach until we succeed. If the opponent wins a point, we win a point back, taking the same approach the opponent has used!" Does repeating an offence that failed not work against you? "That's why we continue until we make it!" The two answer at the same time. Now I understand (laughing). Mariko seems capable, while Ishii appears a little carefree. The two who appear to have contrasting characters made a bold comment at the same time.

How about Mai with here gentle air? "Mai always does her own thing," Mariko says. "When she makes a mistake, she looks like she is about to cry, but in fact she doesn't care that much (laughing). She drags the opponent in this no tension atmosphere, and somehow wins her game." Is that true, Mai? "They often say they can see it on my face. Like 'When you lost that point, you were about to panic,' but in fact, I was not that upset." It seems that the Women's Soft Tennis Club has many unique members.That's not all that characterize the club. It respects players' autonomy. On weekdays, they only have voluntary training, and training locations differ for individual undergraduate school campuses. On weekends, there is training for the entire club, and the 4th year students mainly determine the practice schedule. Don't you grow listless without a coach who is tough on players? "Not at all. How one addresses voluntary training is clearly reflected upon results, so individual players devote themselves with strong determination," Mai asserts.

As she says, the Women's Soft Tennis Club has achieved excellent results in the Japan Student Soft Tennis Championship and other championships. "I was really pleased when we won the Inter College Championships by beating the university that was champion for seven consecutive years. I think it is very significant that while many university teams play under tough instructions from coaches, our team where players voluntarily practice won the championship," says Mariko. "As I have experienced 'making my own decisions' for four years, I have been able to greatly develop as a person. I want to take advantage of this experience after becoming a working adult," Mai says.

Younger students like Yuri will support the next generation of the Women's Soft Tennis Club. "We will carry on the tradition created by seniors and definitely want to create the best team in Japan!" They will surely continue to prove the excellence of the 'WASEDA style' where autonomy of players is respected.

The future of the team depends on the efforts of Yuri and other young members.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Yuri Ishii (left)

Born in Hiroshima Prefecture in 1991. Graduated from Suzugamine Girls' Senior High School. 2nd year, School of Human Sciences. "Different from other team sports, players don't change during matches so whether we win or lose, we bear a lot of the responsibility for the result. It makes me tense, but this is also the real thrill of it."

Ms. Mariko Yasukawa (center)

Born In Shiga Prefecture In 1989. Graduated From Wakayama Shinai Girl's Junior College Senior High School. 4th year, School of Sport Sciences. "I mainly play doubles in soft tennis. It is great fun to make a plan and develop the game together."

Ms. Mai Moriya (right)

Born in Tokyo in 1989. Graduated from Takasaki University of Health and Welfare High School. 4th year, School of Social Sciences. "I use a cut serve to spin the ball for a change-up. A wide variety of techniques are another attraction of soft tennis."