Behind the Scenes with Nina Pantic

MUTIGERS.COM Former Mizzou tennis player Nina Pantic will provide fans with a behind the scenes glimpse into the tennis team all season
Former Mizzou tennis player Nina Pantic will provide fans with a behind the scenes glimpse into the tennis team all season

Jan. 15, 2013

Former Mizzou tennis player Nina Pantic, who is finishing up her master's degree at Missouri, will travel with the Tigers all year and give fans a behind the scenes glimpse into the team.

Missouri tennis kicks of the year at Adidas IU Winter Invitational

Missouri tennis rode in the finest of luxury this past weekend for a six-hour journey to Indiana University for the Adidas IU Winter Invitational Jan. 11-13. The tournament kicked-off the New Year and helped work out some kinks before the start of dual matches.

The luxury ride was a huge White Knight bus filled with expansive loungers, comfy chairs, full-sized tables, microwave, fridge, bathroom, shower, Wi-Fi access, and not one but two Satellite TVs. Everything was normal-sized instead of the expected hobbit-sized, and no luxury went unnoticed by the team, even the impressive storage space. Bus time was spent sleeping comfortably and playing games such as Go Fish, Catchphrase and Apples to Apples. Catchphrase exposed some huge vacancies in some of the teams' history lessons, and Apples to Apples brought out the most competitive personalities. Our amazing bus driver even helped find the most convenient lunch and dinner spots like Jimmy Johns, Noodles & Co., Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse, where sophomore Alex Clark insisted on a tall glass of milk every day.

The first day was pretty close to perfection with every team winning their doubles match and then everyone almost sweeping singles against Marquette University. All of the second day's attention was on manager Jon Strope and his bright yellow Ralph Lauren pants. As a tall guy, it was nearly impossible not to notice the banana-colored peculiarity walking around the facilities proudly representing Missouri colors with a fresh black Missouri shirt to complete the look. The weekend's best match was junior Cierra Gaytan-Leach squeezing past Indiana's 2011 All-American Leslie Hureau in a third set tiebreaker.



During this trip, it became clear that head coach Sasha Schmid's latest obsession is yoga. She will do yoga anywhere and anytime, literally. Even the team has started doing yoga regularly. Equipped with classy Lulu Lemon yoga mats and a new desire to stretch and find her Zen, each girl gets to enjoy one weekly hour-long session. But Schmid's dedication is on a level of its own. In Indiana, she woke up early for a 6:30 a.m. yoga class across the street from the team's Hampton Inn, escorted but not joined by manager Strope. Despite showing up to find out it was hot yoga, she battled through and even rewarded herself with a new Lulu yoga tank top to help further enhance her new passion. While she was sweating out toxins, the rest of the staff was splurging on specialty square donuts and fresh waffles at the hotel's hot breakfast.

The weekend's entertainment highlight was watching the Miss America pageant on ABC. Most of the team got together in one hotel room to watch the extravaganza unfold. College girls are easily the toughest possible critics because very rarely was a compliment expressed during the two-hour show. Negative comments and disgusted remarks were flowing freely as pageant queens boldly walked around in bathing suits and evening gowns before battling through a talent performance. Congrats to Miss New York.

The team arrived back in Columbia to find all their cars covered in ice and snow. With only a single ice scraper, the process of clawing through ice was lengthy and difficult but nothing a group of college athletes couldn't figure out eventually.

Next weekend Missouri tennis takes on St. Louis University in St. Louis on Saturday at 7 p.m. Go Tigers!

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