Meet Whitney Hekking: Captain of the Women’s Tennis Team


Abu Asib

University of Utah Senior Whitney Hekking serves during a dual Pac-12 Women’s Tennis meet vs. the Denver Pioneers (University of Denver) at the George S. Eccles Tennis Center in Salt Lake City on Feb. 23, 2020 (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Scott Stephens


On a roster that is defined by its youth, captain Whitney Hekking, who has been instrumental in helping the young University of Utah women’s tennis team grow this season, is the lone senior. Her goal for the season is to lead the team to a strong finish so that they have positive energy heading into the future of the program.

University of Utah sophomore Madison Tattini and senior Whitney Hekking celebrates after winning the doubles in a dual Pac-12 Women’s Tennis meet vs. the Denver Pioneers (University of Denver) at the George S. Eccles Tennis Center in Salt Lake City on Feb. 23, 2020 (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Hekking was born and raised here in Utah, graduating from Davis High School in December 2016 and then coming to the U to continue her career in tennis. According to Utah Athletics, while in high school Hekking won four individual state titles and helped her team to the 2013 state title. Over the first three years here at the U, Hekking has won numerous awards for her stellar play, including two-time Pac-12 All-Academic Second Team honors and an ITA Scholar-Athlete recognition.

Hekking thrives under the competition and opportunities that come with playing for a Division One university in the Pac-12 conference. This caliber was one of the reasons she chose to come to the U.

The U “is a huge Pac-12 team, and there are many opportunities that come with a Pac-12 school. And so ever since I was little, all I wanted to do was compete in, you know, the best conference in the nation, so this was an easy choice for me,” said Hekking.

It is easy to see how the competition brings out the best in Hekking. However, she enjoys the most success on the court in the doubles configuration with partner Madison Tattini, a sophomore. Together they are currently ranked No. 16 in the nation, and have developed a bond and chemistry that has been instrumental in their success.

University of Utah senior Whitney Hekking punches in the air after securing a point on the singles during a dual Pac-12 Women’s Tennis meet vs. the Denver Pioneers (University of Denver) at the George S. Eccles Tennis Center in Salt Lake City on Feb. 23, 2020 (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

When asked about the connection Hekking had with her partner Tattini, a smile instantly came to her face, which was a dead giveaway to how close the partnership has become.

“Madi, she’s a sweetheart,” she said. “I think we formed a really strong bond not just last year but this year as well. I know she has my back and I have hers, and I think that helps when were on the doubles court, because we know we would do anything for each other.”

Head Coach Ric Mortera also shared why he thinks the two make such a formidable pairing. “They have had a great start to the season and had a great fall as well, and all those things put together have put them in the position that they’re in right now,” he said. “Those two have gelled really well and it’s been a lot of fun to see how they evolved from the first couple practices we had back in August and then leading to now.

“They just really haven’t been afraid to go after it and play to win and really try to impose their game styles and everything that we work on in practice, so I have been really impressed with them so far.”

One of the most evident attributes about Hekking is her work ethic. When asked about her favorite moment playing tennis so far for the U, she said, “Honestly, practices and in the weight room. I think the weight room is where I have the most fun, because it’s like we are in pain, but we’re doing it together as a sisterhood and I think it is really cool because we’re in it together.”

Hekking is essential to the camaraderie of the team and making sure that all of the younger players have an example to follow and set themselves up for success further down their own careers. It is because of this leadership that Mortera and the rest of the coaching staff named her the captain of the team.

University of Utah senior Whitney Hekking serves  during a dual Pac-12 Women’s Tennis meet. (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

“It was a big honor for sure, because I respect Ric, and for him to put the trust in me to lead this team and to be a captain meant a lot,” she said. “I think especially because everyone is so young, I have a bigger role to play on leading the team to success and victories.”

Her biggest goal for the remainder of the season had nothing to do with wins or losses — instead, Hekking wanted to better the program to the best of her ability before her own graduation. “Being a senior with a young team and just being a leader for them with whatever we are doing, as well as creating a pathway for when I leave that the rest can take on and carry on,” said Hekking.

With this drive to lead and provide a positive example for her teammates, it seems only natural that she has chosen to major in human development with an emphasis in early childhood. With this degree, Hekking plans on continuing to be a positive role model to children around the Salt Lake City area, working for a head start program and preparing children ages zero to three for their education to come.


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