Freshman off to blazing start for GV tennis
Christman dominates both singles, doubles competition for Lakers
GVL / Courtesy - Doug Witte Livia Christman
To start the 2015 season, Livia Christman is a combined 18-3 between singles and doubles play. The record, impressive for an upperclassman, takes on a whole new wind of gusto when considering that Christman is a freshman.
Christman has gotten off to a fast start in her first year as a Laker. She’s one of two freshmen in the lineup for the undefeated Lakers, who don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
“I knew we would do well, but I didn’t know we’d do this well,” Christman said. “I’m so proud of everyone and the team, it’s been really fun. We’ve worked really hard and had to earn it.”
Christman is one of six freshmen on a roster in which more than half the team are freshmen. She gets the most extensive playing time out of the six, regularly starting from the No. 4 seed in singles and the No. 3 seed in doubles since the opener against Michigan Tech.
“I was really nervous (the first game for GVSU). I didn’t know what to expect,” Christman said. “I didn’t know what the level of play would be like, and it’s definitely tough. But now going out there, I think it’s more fun to me, rather than getting nervous.”
Christman was a two-star recruit out of Allegan High School, where she posted a career record of 107-8 as the No. 1 seed. She attended various United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournaments throughout her high school career, and was recruited by GVSU head coach John Black.
Her success comes as no surprise to Black.
“Liv has an extremely consistent game and is not intimidated by anyone,” he said. “I felt before the season that Liv would be in the running for one of our starting lineup spots. She has been playing great this fall.”
Although she’s proud of her accomplishments and for earning a spot in the starting lineup, Christman said it was a tough road getting to this point.
“That was really challenging for me. I just had to work hard for it. That was probably the most stressful and difficult time this season. It sucks playing your own teammates (in practice), but it has to happen in order to get a lineup,” she said.
Growing up, Christman worked with tennis coach Oak Saad, a tennis director at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo. Along with her high school tennis obligations, Christman trained with Saad and put in as much extra work as she could throughout the years.
She credits him with developing her game and her success, and Saad says he’s proud of her progression.
“She was such a competitor, was always so hard on herself. She was awesome. She’d never go out there and just give a half effort. She always went out there and to give 100 percent," Saad said.
Christman is doubles partners with sophomore Abby Perkins, who is the No. 1 seed in singles. Playing with a talented player with a year of experience has been a plus for Christman this season.
“She’s definitely taught me a lot and I’m glad to be playing with her, because she’s experienced and is a very good player. She’s a lot of fun and we’re really good friends, and I think we just match up really well,” she said.
While the two have had fun playing together, the tandem has been anything but fun for opposing players. The duo has only lost once this season - 8-3 to Hillsdale at the ITA Regionals - and is undefeated in GLIAC play.
“Liv and Abby’s doubles games complement each other, and they are one of the top third-doubles teams in our conference,” Black said.
With five other talented freshmen, and five unconventional upperclassmen sophomores, GVSU is poised to be stacked for the next couple of years. To Christman, the limit for the Lakers is yet to be seen.
“We can only get better from here. In my first year, we’re already 9-0, and if we keep playing together and building as a team, we can do anything,” she said.