Oldham leads UA women's tennis with guidance of mentors
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics
After struggling when she first came to Tucson, Arizona women’s tennis player Laura Oldham has emerged as a team leader with the help of the tennis head coach and a former UA basketball coach.
The junior from Sheffield, England, recently took home the singles title and won the doubles competition with senior Susan Mc Rann at the women’s Aggie Invitational on Sept. 15 in Las Cruces, N.M.
“[Winning the tournament] was an expectation we had [for Laura],” head coach Vicky Maes said. “That’s a tournament she had to win.”
Being expected to win tournaments is a big change from Oldham’s rough start. She went 6-11 in singles play as a freshman.
“I’m really happy for Laura,” Maes said. “She’s made a lot of adjustments. She struggled her freshman year, came back strong her sophomore year. [She] works hard, really cares about the game and has done a good job of becoming more coachable.”
Oldham said that the title was just a small step toward her ultimate goal of taking her game to the next level.
“Winning is important, but I want to concentrate on moving my game to the next step,” Oldham said.
Oldham got off to a hot start last spring but ran into a bit of trouble in Pac-12 play, where the competition is among the best in the nation. She said she feels she will be better equipped to compete with high-class competition this spring.
“I felt like I improved a lot last year, coming into the season,” Oldham said. “I struggled against some of the higher competition in the Pac-12. This year, I really want to try and compete with them. To do that, I need to be more aggressive and play a stronger game style.”
Oldham started being recruited at 17 years old, while she was living in England. She said she appreciates the American idea of college sports.
“Tennis is a new and upcoming trend in England,” Oldham said. “Some of my friends came over [to the U.S.], and they told me the system: You study and play tennis. At home, we don’t have the opportunity to do that. It’s usually just either tennis or academics.”
Oldham was an honorable mention member of the All-Pac-12 academic team last year.
She credited Maes for her turnaround on the court.
“[Maes] encouraged me a lot my sophomore year to hit through the ball,” Oldham said. “I’m a player that’s not as aggressive. I like to move the ball around the court. Having someone like [Maes] behind me took a lot of pressure off. She really wanted me to do well my sophomore year, and she was really supportive of me.”
Jim Rosborough, assistant director of athletics for development, has also been extremely helpful throughout Oldham’s UA tennis career. Rosborough has volunteered to assist Maes and the women’s tennis team.
Rosborough is best known as former men’s basketball head coach Lute Olson’s associate head coach.
“Ever since my freshman year, [Rosborough] has been a great support,” Oldham said. “He still believed in me even though I struggled my freshman year. You have those days when you struggle. [Rosborough] has always been there, on and off the court.”
—Follow Zach Tennen @ZTennen11