Stonington's Herbert right at home at Conn

Jen Herbert, a Stonington grad now playing tennis at Connecticut College, returns a shot during a doubles match against Wesleyan on Wednesday in New London.
Jen Herbert, a Stonington grad now playing tennis at Connecticut College, returns a shot during a doubles match against Wesleyan on Wednesday in New London. Tim Martn/The Day Buy Photo

New London Facing a sizable deficit against a superior opponent, Jen Herbert did what she always does.

Herbert kept fighting.

While the Connecticut College junior eventually lost, Herbert pressed Wesleyan's Sarah Miller to the final point in her No. 2 singles loss (6-0, 6-2) on Wednesday.

"She's a fighter," coach Chris O'Brien said after Wesleyan beat the Camels 9-0. "You can always count on her to work until the bitter end in her matches. She doesn't have a lot of bad days. She's pretty level as far as day to day what you're going to get out of her and what to expect out of her."

Herbert, a Stonington High School graduate, plays a difficult role for the Camels.

As a No. 1 doubles and No. 2 singles player, she regularly faces high caliber competition, especially in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Often out matched but never out willed, her competitive spirit never wanes.

"I feel like I just want to leave everything on the court," Herbert said. "I'm also a thinker, too, and if I'm losing one way I want to try to win in a different way, so I'll throw out everything I have before I lose the match."

Losing is something that was foreign to Herbert during her high school career. She helped Stonington to four straight Eastern Connecticut Conference titles and four Class S championship appearances. She was a four-time ECC all-star.

When choosing a college, Herbert wanted to stay close to home and be challenged in the classroom and tennis court. It also was important that her dad, Glen Herbert, be able to watch her play. Glen Herbert is is daughter's coach.

Conn was the perfect fit.

"I knew what I was getting myself into," Jen Herbert said of the tennis competition. "I feel privileged to say that I play in this conference. I'd much rather have matches like this than play people that I roll over every week. At least this will inspire me to keep getting better."

After losing her doubles match with partner Maria Pia Sifuentes, Herbert took a short break before playing singles. She battled for every point.

The match was much more competitive than the final score.

"She played really smart and played a tough game for me," Herbert said. "She took advantage of my height and hit a lot of high balls that were difficult for me to attack."

Despite the loss, Herbert's mood remained sunny. Her personality is as pleasant as a summer beach day.

Herbert is enjoying college life on and off the court. She considers her teammates her family.

Practice is always something that she looks forward to.

"Sometimes I count down the hours until practice," Herbert said. "It's always a lot of fun."

She is majoring in English with a minor in music. Her concentration is Ethnomusicology, which is the study of music and culture.

Her summer schedule is filling up fast. She'll play in the Thames Valley League and work at the Weekapaug Tennis Club in Westerly.

She'll start her break with an adventure, living in an MIT fraternity while working as an intern at Voltage Coffee and Art in Cambridge, Mass.

It will be the first time that she'll be away from home.

"I'm not quite sure what I'm getting myself into," Herbert said.

Her opponents also don't know what they getting into when playing Herbert.

g.keefe@theday.com

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