Abby Schagunn serves up experience for women’s tennis

Portland State tennis player Abby Schagunn, a 1998 graduate of Barlow High School, has played the sport ever since she could pick up a racket.

But it wasn’t the love of the game that interested her.

“I lived in Arizona and everyone played tennis,” Schagunn said. “My mom encouraged me to take some lessons and that’s when I started playing. I wasn’t super competitive.”

And that’s hard to believe considering Schagunn was a four-year lettermen for the Bruins during her prep years with state tournament experience.She didn’t start playing doubles until she got to college and admits that it isn’t her preference on the court.

“I like singles a lot better because you have more control of the court,” she said.In February, the Vikings’ top four single’s players led their squad to their first match win of the season, rallying over Willamette University, 4-3, at the Eastmoreland Racquet Club.

Schagunn was seeded in the top four. Schagunn dug deep and went all the way to a third set tie breaker, defeating Willamette’s Jane Littlefield.

Considering Schagunn didn’t have plans to play for any other college out of high school, her choice of PSU was easy to make.

“My mom wanted me to go to PSU because it was close to home,” she said. “Basically it was like, ‘if you want to go to another college, take a loan out.'”

Since the Vikings’ tennis program is still in the developmental stages and is lacking in numbers, Schagunn said it’s difficult to make a comparison to last year’s program.

“We only have five people right now, on the women’s side, that’s not enough,” she said. “We’re defaulting singles and doubles matches because it’s the best out of nine games wins.”

And although the numbers on the team are short, Schagunn said the team chemistry is where it needs to be.

“I think we all get along pretty well,” she said. “We went to Florida and San Francisco with the guys’ team and we all had fun.”

Sophomore men’s tennis player Imran Haider sees the comradery. He also says Schagunn is one of the most talented players he’s ever seen on the court.

“She’s great on the baseline and has great ground strokes,” he said. “When I started on the team last year she was the first to introduce herself and was really polite. She’s a well rounded individual who’s been playing forever. You can tell that she knows the game.”

And PSU tennis coach Leslie Lewis agrees that Schaggun knows the game well.”What can I say? Abby is absolutely Abby,” she said. “Every team in the country ought to have a student-athlete like Abby on their team. She absolutely brings the sunshine to our team everyday with her smile. In the two years I’ve known her she’s never been in a bad mood and I’ve never seen her without a smile on her face. Everyone’s face lights up when Abby walks out there.”

Schagunn says there’s no one in particular who inspires her.

“I do it to stay busy and it’s good exercise,” she said. Her goal for the season is “To win a match in Utah at the Big Sky Conference (tournament),” Schagunn said. “We’re going to Utah to play Weber State University and Northern Arizona.”

Schagunn is studying business but she hasn’t declared an emphasis.

She said she’s having a good time playing the game.

“She’s out there for all the right reasons,” Lewis said. “She has respect from all the team members for that. She actually does better on less practice and she’s better at putting more effort, so she’s an exception to the rule, I guess, in that regard.”

“Every team in the country ought to have a student-athlete like Abby on their team. She absolutely brings the sunshine to our team everyday with her smile.” -tennis coach Leslie Lewis