Similar to many college freshmen, Lacey Pflibsen was facing the difficult decision of choosing a school just one year ago. Pflibsen, from San Diego County, was the star tennis player at her high school, but she went vastly un-recruited amid the talent-rich area of Southern California.
Similar to many college freshmen, Lacey Pflibsen was facing the difficult decision of choosing a school just one year ago.
Pflibsen, from San Diego County, was the star tennis player at her high school, but she went vastly un-recruited amid the talent-rich area of Southern California.
Faced with the potential of giving up the game she loved, Pflibsen had nearly settled on attending the University of California, Berkeley to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. But that was before her mom encouraged her to look at schools in Oregon, an option that could have possibly extended her tennis career.
A promising phone call followed by a visit to the Rose City came, resulting in Pflibsen joining her new teammates to form the Portland State women’s tennis team, the newest addition to Viking athletics following a four-year hiatus for the sport.
“I feel lucky to be here, but it is definitely lucky that I am here,” Pflibsen said. “I think of this as a terrific opportunity.”
After arriving in the South Park Blocks as one of six freshmen on the women’s tennis squad, Pflibsen began practicing with her teammates in September, and the team is now nearing the end of its regular season, with the Big Sky Championships scheduled for the end of April.
Despite Portland State’s inexperience on the tennis court, the Vikings have turned heads with their solid play, and have even earned five wins already this season.
Although overlooked by larger schools, Pflibsen, the self-described “aggressive, all-court player,” earned the number-one position on the team before the first match. Consequently, she has faced the number-one, and likely best, player from opposing schools during each match this season.
Pflibsen has managed to put those challenges aside, compiling a winning record of 11-7 in match play to lead the Vikings.
“I am a part of a team. I just do what I am asked to do,” said Pflibsen. “College tennis is very competitive. All the players are very good, and anyone can be beaten on any day.”
But Pflibsen is not just a solo star, as she also focuses on teamwork. Pflibsen’s commitment to team cohesion is evident when she plays with fellow freshman and doubles partner Molly Knox on the court.
“Molly is great, she reads me so well,” Pflibsen said of her doubles partner. “We have a good time out there together.”
Pflibsen and Knox have teamed up for a 10-7 mark in doubles play, and continue to improve with each match.
“We just continue improving and showing determination in our matches,” said tennis head coach Steve Ascher. “[Knox and Pflibsen] represent the hard work, dedication and improvement that we want here.”
Ascher, a former tennis star at the University of Portland, has connected well with the team, and particularly with Pflibsen.
“He seems to know what to say to me all the time. He calms me down, or motivates me when I need it,” Pflibsen said. “He is extremely intuitive.”
Pflibsen said she hopes to be part of continued improvement at Portland State.
“We want to elevate the program to the next level during our time here. We want to look back and realize how far we have come.”
For Pflibsen and her teammates, the highlight of their inaugural season may have come on Feb. 9, when they earned their first victory of the season in a 4-3 defeat of Big Sky opponent Weber State.
“There were no freshmen on their team, so that was an unbelievable win in a closely contested match for us,” Ascher said.
The culmination of Pflibsen’s individual season came when she defeated Erynne Oki of the University of California, Riverside 7-5, 6-2. Oki had easily beaten Pflibsen in a matchup earlier in the season, and for a moment Pflibsen finally felt that all her hard work had paid off.
“She had easily handled me when we played in December. But in the second match I played well,” she said. “I really felt like I could see my improvement for the first time.”
While the pinnacle of Portland State women’s tennis is likely a few years away, the foundation seems to be firm in Pflibsen.
“We want to make it to the national tournament, and become a consistently ranked team. We are going to do exciting things here,” she said.
The Lacey Pflibsen file
Hometown: Vista, Calif.
Former schools: Vista High School and Escondido Charter High School
Career highlights: -Portland State number-one singles player-Three-year tennis and surfing letter winner in high school-Two-time team MVP for tennis at high school level-Avocado League Singles Champion-Won surfing MVP twice in high school
Interests: Golf, carveboarding and skateboarding
Career goal: Become a doctor