Together, Carita Moolman and Stephanie N’tcha form one of the best women’s tennis doubles teams in the country. The duo of Moolman, a junior from Namibia, Africa, and N’tcha, a senior from Benin, West Africa, are ranked as the No. 83 pairing in the NCAA.
To provide context, earning a spot in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings is quite prestigious. They have an 11-4 record this season, which includes knocking off Auburn’s Emily Flickinger and Pleun Burgmans, the fifth-ranked doubles pairing in Division I.
Their relationship on and off the court has played a large role in why they have become one of the nation’s top duos.
AN: How long have the two of you played doubles together?
CM: My freshman year we played together a little bit, but then we split up last year, and now this year we’ve played together again.
AN: What were your first impressions of each other?
SN: We had played against each other once before in Botswana when we were about 14 years old. Carita couldn’t remember that, but I could because I beat her.[Both look at each other and laugh] No but seriously; she’s good at the net, which I’m terrible at, but I’m better at serving and rallying from the back so I felt like our games sort of completed each other.
AN: Other than having games that complete each other, what are some key attributes to being a great doubles team?
CM: Good communication for sure. Playing together for a long time helps as well because you know where your partner is going.
SN: A lot of doubles teams get extremely serious but we are the most relaxed out there. We’re laughing all the time and telling jokes. We’re just having fun. Sometimes we have too much fun and it doesn’t go well, but other times we have too much fun and play great.
AN: How do the two of you feel about your recent ranking?
SN: It feels good. Pressure comes with it, but not too much. We forget about it during the match and then when it gets down to the last couple of points we’re like ,‘Oh wait, we’re ranked. We need to actually win this.’ But it does feel good.
AN: Well you two obviously make a good team on the court, but what are things like off the court? Do you hang out together a lot outside of tennis?
SN: Well we’re roommates so I don’t have a choice but to see her everyday.
CM: Like all the time, every second of the day. It’s fine though because we don’t get sick of each other, most of the time.
AN: So I take it, then, that you do a lot of things together.
SN: Like everything? Yeah.
AN: What would you say is the strangest thing the two of you do together?
SN: Sometimes we complete each other’s sentences or we’ll say the exact same thing at the exact same time. It’s weird. That shows we spend too much time together. We also do this thing where we add weird endings to words. Other people look at us like we’re crazy, which I understand, but we don’t really care.
AN: How do you feel about conference this year?
CM: Excited. Last year we got to the finals and lost. That was annoying. So we don’t want to do that again.
AN: What about your expectations for conference?
CM: Winning. Duh. No, but really there are some good teams in our conference so it will be hard.
AN: Do either of you want to play tennis professionally?
CM: I don’t. I’ll just get a job and take a break from tennis for a while. But N’tcha wants to.
SN: I’m going to try and play a lot of professional tournaments, but I’m not aiming to win the Australian Open. There are tournaments all over the place, especially in South Carolina and Georgia. There’s a tournament in Georgia in October that I hope I’ll play. The purse for that one is $50,000.
AN: All right, the question I’ve been dying to ask – which one of you is better?
CM: N’tcha for sure.
SN: No. We’re all good at different things.
CM: But she really is better. She wins everything.
SN: And when was the last time you lost? [Carita stops to think about it] Exactly! A long time ago!
AN: I’m sure that in the two years that you have played together, you’ve made tons of memories and now have all kinds of funny stories to tell. Any you’d like to share?
CM: Well once during my freshman year, N’tcha was serving and I was up at the net and she served it right into my back. And she has the hardest serve ever. It’s so hard. So my back was bruised for a good two weeks.
SN: [Laughing] I don’t remember that at all.