Justine Lespes

Lespes makes Lady Saint tennis history


Mauricio Gonzalez

Reaching back, Justine Lepses eyes the ball coming toward her. She returns service with a backhand.

It was a historic fall season for Justine Lespes. The sophomore tennis player was the first in Lady Saints history to advance to the ITA national single’s championship match in Rome, Georgia. 

She lost in the finals to Lauren Anzalotta, Tyler Junior College, in straight sets, 6-3 and 6-1. Lespes said bringing home the national runner-up title still feels like a dream.

Justine Lespes celebrates a win and moves onto the next round of the tournament. (Mauricio Gonzalez)

 How does it feel to place second in the ITA National Tournament?

It feels good but it was also stressful at the same time. I wanted to make Coach [Mitch] Vechione proud, so I played the best I could. While at the same time I was also making myself proud. I competed against the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked singles which is a big deal. My match against Destinee Martins, No. 2 ranked from Tyler Junior College, lasted about 3.5 hours where I took the win to move on to the finals. That is a huge accomplishment for me.

 How did you start playing tennis?

My family’s thing is tennis in general. Both my parents play along with my brother, so I just followed after them.

Why did you decide to play tennis at Seward County?

 I am originally from France. I was trying to come to America in March of 2020 when Covid began. So it was harder. I wanted to attend a university but my grades were not good enough. My friend told me about a spot being open here. She recommended me to coach and he thought I would be a good fit. Playing tennis and being here has shown me that it was better than just going to a university to begin with because it has helped me improve my English and my grades.

Creating a firm foundation, Justine Lespes gets set for a strong forehand return. (Mauricio Gonzalez)

How does it feel to be the first-ever women’s single student-athlete from SCCC to make it to the National finals? 

 I didn’t realize that what I was doing was a first in Seward’s history until the semi-finals match. Overall, it is cool and something I am definitely proud about. It is not over yet, though. I will continue to work on making myself better for the next time.

Lespes hopes to help the Lady Saints bring home a team national championship this spring.