HILLSBORO, Ore. – George Fox’s Will Leach (Portland, Ore.) is a sophomore on the men’s tennis team. After a standout freshman campaign, Leach returns this season poised to lead the Bruins to another successful showing.
“As a member of the George Fox men’s tennis team I have had the opportunity to be a part of more than just a team. I was adopted into a brotherhood with a strong culture of hard work and love for each other,” says Leach. “The culture is one where we embrace challenges together and strive to push one another to be the best that we can be. Over the past year and a half, there have been crazy tough workouts and exhausting matches, but I have loved every moment of it.”
Leach describes a defining experience in his collegiate career thus far as winning the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional in singles and doubles in the fall season. “My freshman year I had a great run to the finals of the ITA, but I was disappointed when I lost handily to my teammate Spencer Watanabe after having such a great tournament.” Leach fell to Watanabe 6-3, 6-3 in the finals. “With that motivation, I was extremely focused and determined to get back to the finals of the ITA and hopefully win. When it actually happened, I was so overwhelmed with emotion and could not believe that as a team we had swept Whitman out of the ITA again.” Leach defeated teammate Luke Lemaitre to earn All-America status and finish in first-place in singles. He then took to the court to defeat first-seeded Whitman alongside partner Keaten Baker. “That moment was one of the greatest moments I have had as a collegiate athlete,” he says.
Aside from athletics and academics, Leach also attends FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) on Monday nights when his schedule allows. “I find [it] is a great place to bond with other Christian Athletes and dive into the word of God.”
Leach says that being a Division III athlete in the Northwest Conference “allows you to develop as an athlete, as a student, and as the person who you want to be the rest of your life.” Leach was named the NWC Freshman of the Year and earned first team recognition in 2018. “I think that it allows you to have a community that you can grow with and provides great competition to sharpen your skills in your sport.”
The sophomore says that “being able to be a part of a team where not everything will always be perfect, but you learn to be forgiving and you learn to care about each other, which pulls the team closer together,” is one of the greatest skills he has learned thus far. “Also, in life there are always going to be challenges and things that do not go your way, which athletics teaches you to be able to handle. Whether it is an unexpected injury or just not feeling like going to practice or workouts, the life of a student-athlete helps build a certain grit and mental toughness that will carry over into a career, relationship, or any tough situation that happens in life.”
Leach says his greatest mentor while at George Fox has been Coach Ninteman. “From when I first arrived at Fox, he taught us how success is a result of hard work and how failure is on the path to success,” he says. “We have been the hardest working team in the conference through his instruction and the life lessons that he teaches us on a daily basis, relating to competition and how it relates to the rest of our lives, and how our faith in God can be shown through how we battle on court, have been the most influential lessons I have ever learned in my life.”
“I am so grateful that I have been able to be led by [Ninteman] and I cannot wait to continue learning from him as we keep competing this season,” says Leach.
The No. 28 Bruins take to the court to face No. 19 Whitman this Saturday.