There's no senior slide for one Gophers student-athlete.
Since the Minnesota women's tennis team (10-7, 3-2 Big Ten) concluded their 2018 season last spring, senior Bita Mancera realized her tennis career was near its end. Now in her final season, she's put everything she has into each shot.
"I was moving in the right direction last year, and I played some really good matches. But to me it was more of a mental thing," Mancera said. "I didn't really think I could win some of those big matches, so just stepping out onto the court — no matter whose across the net — I just have to play the ball and not the opponent."
So far, Mancera has been living up to her own expectations by playing the best tennis of her Gophers' career, which is not going unnoticed by some coaches and teammates. They consider a Mancera's performance a near guaranteed point for the team.
"We can rely on her because she just gets the job done," said senior Annemarie Emme.
For head coach Catrina Thompson, Mancera's progress has been so apparent that coaches relax when she's closing out a game.
"Now, when she gets ready to close out matches, as a coach, you can just sit back and feel extremely confident," Thompson said.
Along with gained confidence for Mancera, Emme said Mancera's passion drives her success on and off of the court. "Her passion for things really sets her apart, if she likes or is really into something she goes all out," Emme said.
With only seven duals left in the season before the Big Ten Championships at the end of April, Mancera has boasted a 13-6 record so far. She's on pace to eclipse her personal win record, 18, which she set last season.
On top of her best singles performances so far, Mancera was put into the doubles lineup for the first time in her career. In four different doubles pairings this season, she's 6-1.
After her final match of the season and graduation, Mancera plans to continue her education by attending graduate school back home in Mexico to study public policy. Even though Dinkytown has become a home, Mancera said she's glad to get away from the harsh Minnesota winters.
"I had never had to check the weather before going outside before [coming to Minnesota]," Mancera said. "[So] I'm glad about the change in weather."
Although everything is not set in stone, Mancera hopes to attend the National Institute of Technology of Mexico, a school both of her parents attended.
"It's a little bit of a rite of passage to go through that university [for] my family," Mancera said. "I was the one person who didn't go [there], but I'm glad I have the opportunity to go there now."