Athlete of the week: tennis’ Kathryn Ashford strives for the “big wins” amid losses

Freshman Kathryn Ashford has been bringing new life to the struggling tennis team.


Grant Walter

Kathryn Ashford | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES

Tyler Gunhus, Writer

Freshman Kathryn Ashford entered last semester as a standout tennis star, and in a position that most high school athletes only dream about.

“I came from a high school where we won all the time. We were very successful,” Ashford said.

So far for the Eagles in 2013, that hasn’t necessarily been the case. Biola has struggled with a 2-12 record in all matches, and plays in a conference which has three schools in the national top 10 rankings.

What is more, Ashford joined an Eagles squad that was an abysmal 1-22 last season, and has posted a 28-101 record since 2007.


In her first season with the team, Ashford has provided a much-needed spark for the Eagles. Out of the 14 matches Biola has played, the Eagles have 22 wins in singles and doubles games. Out of those 22, 11 have been Ashford winning either in her singles match or with freshman partner Susan Carmichael in doubles.

Despite the lack of team success indicated by their record, Ashford remarked that winning the match is not the only goal.

“Our coach always talks about ‘the big wins,’” Ashford said. “The little wins, like winning a match, are great, but I think the big win would be coming off the court knowing that you were a shining example of God’s love, playing fair and keeping your composure.”


An art major with an emphasis in design, Ashford believes that sports put an important emphasis on winning and success, but there are other ways to carry that out.

In an early season showdown against Westmont College, the freshman was struggling early against her opponent when her coach pulled her aside.

“My coach told me, ‘Kathryn, you need to play for the glory of God, and you need to play as if Jesus is your only audience,’” Ashford said.

Ashford would go on to battle back, win her match and claim the only point for the Eagles in the 1-8 loss. The freshman found that calming herself during matches and listening to her coach helped her rise above and cope with whatever the outcome may be.


“Coming from a high school where we won all the time, it was difficult at first but it’s definitely helping me grow in areas other than tennis,” Ashford said.

Ashford, who first picked up a racket in seventh grade, had looked at several schools to continue playing tennis collegiately.

“I was looking at Point Loma [Nazarene University] and Westmont, but I think it basically came down to the atmosphere at Biola,” Ashford said. “I saw it as a good place to grow in my faith as well as being able to play tennis.”

The rising Biola star added that despite the team’s poor record, she sees much potential in her team moving forward over the next few seasons.

“Obviously we haven’t won the most, but honestly, we are a really young team. We only have one senior,” Ashford said. “We have four freshmen on the team right now, and I think if we all continue, we’ll be able to contribute a lot in the future.”

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