Woodman In For a Special Win

With her fingers she taps on the curtain behind the baseline after every point, lost or won.

Jessie Koon • The spectator

Kelli Woodman of Seattle University’s Women’s Tennis Team.


Tap. Tap. Tap— the way one taps on a keyboard or on a desk in class. It’s become a personal habit, something only Kelli Woodman does.

“It’s a routine to reset the points,” she said. “It keeps me focused.”

Focus is what it took Kelli Woodman, tennis player at Seattle University, to win the Rosemary Fri Award on Jan. 23 at the Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame Gala.“I couldn’t believe it,” Woodman said, describing how she felt the moment co-captain Kristen James announced it out-loud. “I almost started crying because it’s such a huge honor to receive that award. I’ve always wanted to receive it.”

The Rosemary Fri award is given to a female tennis player from Colorado or who attends a Colorado college that has demonstrated excellence on and off the tennis court.

“Kelli is very deserving of this prestigious honor. She is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. She’s always looking to get better and that has shown in the success she has had,” said head coach of the women’s tennis team at Seattle U, Adam Reeb. “The great thing about Kelli is that she is focused on the team first, never herself. She wants the team to succeed so much and she is a great captain and teammate. I’m so proud of her for earning this award.”

Woodman is the 16th recipient of this award, the first award presented in 2000, and she is the first at Seattle U to be presented with this award.

At about age 10, Woodman’s father noticed that she had a special talent for tennis. So, after playing tennis in group lessons and on her free time, she began expressing her admiration for the sport, focusing on it heavily and working harder after every defeat.

In high school, she recalled losing in three sets at number one singles that lasted 3.5 hours. “That was devastating,” she said.

But, she stuck to her motto, “Never, never, never give up,” and the next year she made it to finals after beating the player she lost to in the semi-finals. At finals, she beat one of her good friends who goes to Princeton University today. She recalled this victory with a smile on her face.

Because tennis is an individual sport, Woodman constantly has to motivate herself on the court, an explanation as to why a crowd might capture tennis players talking to themselves. “You have to hold yourself accountable and you have to work for yourself,” she said.

A tennis player who Woodman looks up to and who embodies the values that Woodman believes in is Serena Williams.

“She’s amazing. Talking about body image issues with girls, she’s one of those people that are really prominent in saying, ‘you know, you’re supposed to look like an athlete.’ It’s fun to see how great she is,” Woodman said.

Woodman’s focus continues today as she makes time around her busy school schedule to practice tennis.

“It’s routine: get up for weights, go to class, go to practice, do homework, eat, go to bed,” she said.

There’s never a time to take a break. During summer breaks, Woodman spends her time coaching younger tennis players.

“I try to give back most of my time to the younger kids that are coming up in the tennis ladder because a lot of the older people did the same thing for me,” she said.

Woodman is currently taking Spanish courses and plans to move to South America after graduation and further expand her knowledge of the Spanish language. She hopes to stay in the sports aspect of business but internationally—marketing with ESPN, Fox Sports or the Tennis Channel.

With graduation around the corner, Woodman hopes to further her tennis accomplishments and try the pro tour to gain ATP points. Tennis is something she plans to continue until her body gives out.

For now, winning the WAC with her team is on her mind.

And as Woodman has proved, as long as you’re focused, determined and have belief that you’ll achieve what you set your mind to, it’ll happen.

“If you don’t have that belief in yourself, there’s no way that you can take what you’ve practiced into what you play.”

The editor may be reached at [email protected]