The Portland State tennis team may be struggling on paper, but the team is gaining experience each day as the players prepare to take their play to the next level. Players like senior Melinda Johnson. Johnson is in the No. 3 spot on the Vikings women’s team. She has been swinging a tennis racquet ever since she was little girl.
“I’ve played tennis since I was a little girl. My parents had a tennis court at home,” the soon to be graduated Johnson said.
The senior is a business major with a focus in advertising and marketing. Johnson will be graduating this year and has big travel plans. She hopes to first move to Hawaii and eventually travel to Asia, where her mother Huong is from.
Both of Melinda’s parents, Clay and Huong, are very supportive of their daughter’s tennis career, along with Melinda’s other goals.
“They try to come to all of the home matches,” Johnson said.
When she isn’t using her favorite “down the line forehand” to break down her opponents, Johnson still stays active. She likes to be outdoors and enjoys running, usually long distance.
“I like outdoor stuff,” Johnson explained. “I also like to be by the beach.”
Before coming to Portland State, Johnson attended high school in Grants Pass. Her sport of choice in high school was volleyball, but her plan to play volleyball in college was cut short due to any injury sustained during her senior year. Johnson scrapped her plan to go to play college ball in Colorado and decided to try PSU.
The decision to attend Portland State was a kind of last minute thing, Johnson explained. She needed to find a school to go to, and PSU was it. Playing college tennis wasn’t even on the agenda yet when she became a Viking. Johnson was taking a tennis class at PSU and was asked to join the team by coach Leslie Lewis’ predecessor.
When Lewis took over the program, Melinda was already gaining experience playing at the college level. During that time the tennis program was still playing in Division III. The jump to Division I has been a tough one, but Johnson and the rest of the team has been making great progress.
“She is going out of her senior year with a bang,” Lewis said. “She has been playing the best tennis of her career. We are really going to miss her next year.”
The squad not only has gained a great deal of experience, but also a great deal of respect for one another.
“This year’s team is really great. We all get along really well. I’m sad that this is my last year,” Johnson said. “I’m going to miss it.”