Lions lean on senior’s leadership

Ngouabeu returns a serve against Cameron University Feb. 15. Ngouabeu has aided the Lions throughout the season helping the Lions to the GSC conference tournament.

With the regular season over for North Alabama Women’s Tennis, Olivera Ngouabeu stood out for the Lions in her last season.

The senior from Paris has held the No. 1 seat since her freshman season at UNA. Ngouebeu led the women’s tennis team to a 10-7 overall record and a 6-4 conference record.

The Lions’ Tennis Head Coach, Brice Bishop, says Ngouabeu role on the team is crucial to the team’s overall success.

“The team tends to do how the top player does, so it’s important for Oli (Ngouabeu) to play well,” Bishop said.

This statistic proved true as the Lions won seven of the eight matches when Ngouabeu won her individual match. Ngouabeu went 8-6 on the season in singles and finished 11-4 in doubles with Nele Seitz being her usual partner.

Ngouabeu said she gained inspiration from her team throughout the season.

“It was actually pretty hard at times, and I sometimes I did not handle it as well as I could have,” Ngouabeu said. “My teammates really helped me.”

 The challenges throughout the year has pushed Ngouabeu. Bishop called the drive to be successful a positive quality in his No. 1.

“The fact that every team we play has a really good No. 1 player, so every match is going to be tough,” Bishop said. “She wants that challenge. It’s what makes her special.”

Ngouabeu’s leadership role on the team is something she says is rewarding but also tough. It also helps when the leadership role can be shared between two players.

“I am sharing leadership with senior Morgan Jose, so it is not as difficult as if I was carrying that role by myself,” Ngouabeu said. “I think the fact that you have to be cheerful and positive for the team all the time even when you are not playing good is maybe the most difficult part of being a leader.”

Ngouabeu’s cheerful practice presence is another quality that has set her apart from the competition.

Ngouabeu brings an excess amount of energy to matches, but she also brings the same intensity to every practice, Bishop said.

That same energy will be big for the Lions with the Gulf South Conference tournament rolls around April 20-22. Ngouabeu will be playing her last GSC tournament, but her mindset has not changed. Ngouabeu said her teammates will help her, but she will take every match in the GSC tournament one point at a time.

Bishop said, whatever happens in the GSC tournament, Bishop will be proud for his senior leader. Ngouabeu has been fun to coach the last four years.