Same team, different courts: Baylor WTEN leaders bring squad together

Senior Paula Barañano launches a serve toward her opponent on April 8 against Kansas State at the Hurd Tennis Center. Lariat file photo.

By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer

Over the past few weeks, Baylor women’s tennis has flung its green and gold afar as players have represented the Bears in tournaments across Texas. The fall season is a unique time because the team does not travel together and often plays individually.

This causes team chemistry to be more challenging given the teammates are in many different locations. However, seniors Paula Barañano and Isabella Harvison have embraced the role of leaders to emphasize the value of teamwork.

“Whenever everyone is here, [we] try to have team practices in the afternoon,” Barañano said. “We have two to three hours we are all together on the court. We try to have dinners, have fun together, so we can have that unified culture that we want. Now, it is just support[ing] each other. [We] message [each other] ‘good luck’ in the tournaments.”

The fall is viewed as a prepping period for the spring, so getting to know each other is important. The team’s roster has four new freshmen, and both Barañano and Harvison have been helping them adapt to life as Division I athletes.

“[This year] I need to help a bit more — help the freshmen adjust and help with other things outside of tennis and on the court,” Harvison said. “I’m willing to do it. It’s been good so far.”

With last year’s upperclassman leaders, Alicia Herrero Linana and Mel Krywoj, gone, there are vacancies for players to step up. Argentina native Barañano did so. She has been a part of the Baylor squad since 2019; she said her time in Waco has gone by so fast, but she is now ready to take on the role as a team leader.

“I’m ready for that challenge,” Barañano said. “The most important part is to be a good example for them. I try to always do the right thing. I want them to trust in me [and] also respect me, but also have fun with each other, support each other. That’s the main goal.”

Last season, Barañano was a fourth-year junior and could be found on court six. She finished the spring season with a strong 16-6 record and performed well under pressure. In a heated three-set match against Kansas, Barañano clinched the crucial point for the Bears winning 4-3.

California native Harvison will start her second season at Baylor after transferring from the University of Alabama in January 2021. Due to former NCAA rules, she had to sit her sophomore season, but Harvison, a junior last spring, took court one confidently. This year, she is ranked No. 72 by Intercollegiate Tennis Association in the preseason.

Both players found great success last season and now look forward to this year. Barañano has already claimed some victories in doubles and singles this fall, and she said this semester is about preparation.

“The fall is more get[ting] strong, get[ting] ready,” Barañano said. “[Getting to] know each other, have a good culture and just preparing for the spring.”

Harvison echoed Barañano’s sentiments and said the team is tirelessly putting in the work as a unit, even if they aren’t always in the same place.

“We’re cheering each other on,” Harvison said. “We’re doing what we can. We work hard in the gym, and we work hard on the court. It’s exciting that we’re all playing different tournaments, and we always stick together.”