Q&A with Jamie Silverberg, freshman women’s tennis star
Women’s tennis freshman Jamie Silverberg has not lost in singles play since the fall season, a streak spanning 14 matches. She hasn’t lost a set in the last five matches and helped the No. 10 Bears upset No. 7 University of Chicago, one of Wash. U.’s top opponents in the University Athletic Association. Silverberg talked with Student Life about her tennis career and outstanding freshman season.
Student Life: In March, you were named UAA athlete of the week, and you haven’t lost a singles match since the fall. What’s behind the success freshman year?
Jamie Silverberg: I think it’s likely the lack of pressure. Coming in, I was happy to play any position—as long as I’m playing, I’m happy—and so I guess I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I’m doing. Coming in as a freshman, it’s sort of like you have no expectations…and so there’s not so much pressure on me. I just go out every match and I’m like, ‘All right, here we go. It’s just another match,’ and it’s been working so far.
SL: You also haven’t dropped a set in almost a month. How have you managed to maintain such a small margin of error?
JS: Over the last couple of weeks, my wrist has been bothering me. So I think what was important for me was to get off the court as quickly as possible. It’s actually helped my focus a lot.
SL: When and why did you start playing tennis?
JS: I started playing tennis because when I was younger, my brother started playing tennis, and I would always watch his tennis lessons. I would just hit on the side of the wall, and I was like, ‘Oh, I kind of like this,’ so I started to pick it up.
SL: What have been your best and worst memories on the courts?
JS: The worst memories are losing the matches when you have like eight match points and end up losing it. That stinks. Last weekend was one of my top memories of tennis because, in high school, my freshman year, we were really good, but then we really had a drop-off, so to be on a very competitive team again where everybody cares is really awesome. And then to see success is even more great.
SL: Can you talk about the win over University of Chicago a little bit more and what it means to the team to get that win?
JS: We played them [earlier this year], and we lost to them. Our lineup was different, but just seeing that we could compete with a top-ranked team like that gave us the confidence to go into this weekend and be like, ‘All right, we can do this.’ And with the change in the lineup and a whole new mentality—also the night before, we were named top 10—and that gave us some extra confidence going in. We were all freaking out because we’ve never been ranked that high ever, and so we went in with a pretty pumped-up mindset.
SL: Do you prefer playing singles or doubles?
JS: I like playing singles just because I’m more comfortable with it. I didn’t play much doubles growing up, but now I’m starting to like doubles more and more because it’s more fun to have someone next to you than just to be out there by yourself.
SL: Who is your favorite professional tennis player and why?
JS: I love Roger Federer because he’s so classy. Also, he’s amazing. He just seems like a really great guy, and I really like his style of play.
SL: How has your experience with the Wash. U. team been so far?
JS: I love being part of such a hardworking group of girls, and we’re all really close, and it’s just really exciting to be part of a group that—my mom was saying the other day—to be part of a group that’s bigger than you is nice. We all obviously need each other in order to have success.
SL: Has your game changed at all since coming to Wash. U.?
JS: I’m trying to be more aggressive and come to the net more. I think doubles has helped with that. Since I’m small [Silverberg is 5 feet 4 inches tall], it’s hard for me to be too much of an attacker, but I’m trying to close out the points more at the net.