Seaborne's mother knows the player and the person

BY KYLE MANN | APRIL 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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Because her daughter was the reigning Big Ten Athlete of the Week and in the final weekend of her college career, Jan Seaborne knew Ruth Seaborne would have to keep herself focused as she prepared to compete on the courts of the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex. 

After winning 15 of her last 16 matches coming into the weekend, Ruth Seaborne struggled in front a unique set of eyes in the crowd. Although this was her first time making the trip from the United Kingdom to see her daughter play in Iowa City, Jan Seaborne knows her daughter, and her game as well as anybody ever could.

Entering the day on a five-match singles winning streak, when No. 75 Seaborne dropped the first set of her singles match against No. 92 Gabriella De Santis, 6-1, it was clear something was off on April 18.

“She’s not playing her game,” the elder Seaborne said. “She let her opponent dictate the game, and she wasn’t getting to do what she does best and attacking.”

From on the court, her daughter had noticed as much.

“[De Santis] was feisty,” Ruth Seaborne said. “She had a lot of tough shots.”

After a day on which Jan noticed her daughter hadn’t used enough sunscreen, she knew her ability to bounce back would be mostly a mental effort.

“Sometimes, if she has a few bad points, that can affect how she plays, but sometimes a loss will make her regroup and focus more,” Jan Seaborne said.

So in her final home match against Penn State on Sunday, just two days after arguably the younger Seaborne’s worst outing of her senior campaign, she stopped getting burnt and started getting hot.

Head coach Katie Dougherty “wanted to spread things out” in the doubles matches, and as a result, Seaborne played alongside junior Ellen Silver at the No. 3 position. They played well together, snagging a quick 8-4 victory over Marie Bedard and Taylor Shukow.

Between the doubles and singles matches, Jan Seaborne joined Ruth Seaborne on the court to be lauded for a career that carried her from London to Florida State to Iowa. Ruth Seaborne overcame serious illness in her sophomore season and a left foot injury last summer to receive team MVP honors and two Big Ten Athlete of the Week awards.

“It was an emotional weekend,” she said, but she was able to stay in the zone to win an exciting singles match over Dasha Sapogova.

Seaborne took the first set with relative ease, 6-2, and it was visible that Seaborne was feeling more in control than on April 18.

“I got to come up more and play toward the net,” she said.

After a convincing performance in the first set, the senior showed why Dougherty placed her in her all-time Iowa top five. After a close back-and-forth, and once down 5-3, Seaborne caught fire and won the set 7-5.

Jan Seaborne claims that “Ruth doesn’t think [she] knows anything about tennis,” but on her only trip to Iowa City, she hit the nail right on the head. But was it only because she knows tennis, or because she knows her daughter?

“I know her,” Jan Seaborne said. “I know her mental states. If she’s in a good mental state, she can really fly. She was in a good state today.”

It was an admittedly emotional weekend for Ruth Seaborne as she finished up her career at Iowa. But for Jan Seaborne, she was just happy to be here and proudly supporting her daughter.

“It was great to see Ruth,” she said. “It was nice to see her play.”

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