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Volume 5, Number 29
10 May 1999

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Bilkent Teams Bring Home the Gold
Women Capture National Tennis Title

Top row, from left: Tennis Programs Coordinator and Coach Alper Uğraş, Aslı Sakızlı, Bahar Şeçmeer, Nimet Eryiğit, and Sports Center Director Dr. Hayri Özkan.
Bottom, from left: Amir Soudipour, Can Ediger, and Assistant Coach Serhan Gür.

Any doubt that Bilkent's sports programs are among the best in the nation has been erased by the Women's Tennis Team. Playing through injuries and beating competitors from 21 universities, the women captured Bilkent's first national title at the recent inter-university tennis tournament held at İstanbul Technical University.

"We were aiming to be first," said team member Bahar Şeçmeer, who was nonetheless surprised at the team's outstanding performance. "We were calm and patient and we never gave up," she said. Noting that the tournament fell just before finals, team member Aslı Sakızlı, who injured her elbow during the competition, said "If we had to do this all this extra work, we were determined to make it worth something." That "something" ended up being a national championship. Team member Nimet Eryiğit attributes the team's success to teamwork and experience. "We did it through friendship and teamwork. We love playing tennis and we were among the most experienced teams." And many of the opposing teams were very experienced. Assistant Coach Serhan Gür points out that unlike Bilkent, many other university teams feature professional players. But other factors may have helped the team compensate. Gür and all the players pointed out that Bilkent's indoor tennis court allows them to practice despite bad weather. In addition, three months before the tournament the team adopted a training schedule that had them working at least an hour a day four days a week.

But no matter how it came to be, the players and coaches are savoring the historic victory. "This is our dream come true," said Alper Uğraş, Coach and coordinator of tennis programs. "This is the result of teamwork. Even though the men lost their game, they stayed to support the women's team."

The men's team - Can Ediger, Umut Yurtoğlu, and Amir Soudipour - was eliminated the the second round of competition among 28 male squads. Both the men's and women's teams sent their three top players to the competition. A fourth women's team player, Ekin Erdoğan, prepared for the tournament but did not go in order to honor her academic obligations.

Despite their loss, the men take pride in and have learned from the women's accomplishments. "The ladies showed huge effort and deserve becoming number one," Can said.

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