Game, set and match with Megan Govi

Megan Govi’s journey to become Portland State Women’s Tennis winningest player began at an early age.

Before becoming a standout at PSU, “I started recreationally with my family when I was 6 years old, just hitting around at a park next to our house,” Govi said.

Little did she know this would be the start of a four-year college career many only dream about.

Her first sport was swimming, where she stood out due to her work ethic. This drive became a trademark she used to become a competitive swimmer. This passion she has in perfecting her craft was the reason why she believed she could be a successful tennis player.

She first got into tennis because her brother played it. By the time she was 12 there was a mutual interest in playing the sports her brother played, and at this point her parents decided to put her into a tournament. Govi knew that her form was not the best, but she managed to chase everything down to win the match.

Coming into the sport, she became a fan of two marquee players who continue to dominate women’s tennis today.

“I’ve always loved [Maria] Sharapova, but I could never play like her,” Govi said. “I always looked up to Sharapova and Serena Williams.”

Aside from of the two most noticeable faces in the women’s game today, she follows current world number five Caroline Wozniacki.

“I love Wozniacki,” Govi said. “She is a marathoner, and I also love to run distance.”

Govi’s family is composed of distance runners. Her brother ran for UCLA and her uncle is currently coaching her to do half and full marathons.

She was born in San Rafael, California. Entering high school, she wanted to give tennis her full attention. Govi decided to focus on tennis as her only sport, dropping swimming and basketball. She attended Marin Catholic High School for three years. In her freshman and sophomore years she played on the tennis team; after those two years she decided to focus on USTA. To take her game to the next level, she began to train full time at the Eagle Fustar tennis academy, requiring her to commute by train five hours per day.

Govi had a goal to play at the college level once she made tennis her priority going into high school. During her junior year of high school she started looking at potential destinations to play in college. In a visit to a division III school, the coach was convinced she would go to this school because of her belief that she could not play division I.

“At that point, I wanted to prove her wrong,” Govi said.

She took visits to Pepperdine and branched out to other schools, hoping for a solid role in the lineup. A recommendation for a coach who was from Portland sent her up north to Oregon.

“My mom and I went on a road trip, and I absolutely loved the city,” Govi said.

She stopped by to talk to head coach Jay Sterling, who took his time to show her the campus and the school. That is when she was offered an opportunity to be a PSU Viking, an offer she could not turn down.

In the 2011–12 season, Govi entered her first year for the PSU Women’s Tennis team as a division I player.

“The biggest adjustment was that since the juniors, you have been playing for yourself,” Govi said. “You go to college tennis, then suddenly you are on a team. The challenges I faced were not on the tennis court but off the tennis court.”

On the court she prepared by playing in the women’s circuit, which was composed of many players who were older and bigger. The competition helped her transition into tennis at PSU. In the juniors, on-court coaching was not allowed. In college she appreciated that she was able to get on-court insights from Sterling.

“He would always have great advice,” Govi said. “He would point things out that I could not see yet.”

That led to a 2-2 fall tournament debut at the Washington State Cougar Classic. On Jan. 28, 2012, she recorded her first dual win against Lewis-Clark State College’s Miranda Duggan in straight sets 6-2 6-2.

Govi commented on her first dual win, “It was amazing to have a team to celebrate a win with as well as cheer you on throughout your entire match.”

As a freshman she finished 8-11 overall and 4-4 in Big Sky Conference play for singles. In doubles she finished 4-15 overall and 2-6 in Big Sky play.

Heading into her sophomore season, something changed.

“Mentally I became much tougher,” Govi said. “I didn’t want to lose for myself or my team. I was not going to walk off the court until I won.” She added that her favorite movies were the Rocky Balboa films. “I always thought of myself as the Rocky figure, not the best strokes, not the best talent in that sort of way, but a lot of heart.”

That mindset turned her into the single-season singles win record holder. She went 17-6 overall and 7-3 in Big Sky Conference singles play. In doubles she went 14-8 overall and 6-3 in Big Sky Conference play. She rebounded after every loss with a win to have a season without two losses in a row at any point. Megan Govi gained the “eye of the tiger” during the season.

In her junior year, Govi led the Vikings with a 9-6 singles record and a 10-6 doubles record. On March 7, 2014, her win against Omaha’s Lindsey Weideman 6-1 6-2 broke the record to become the PSU’s all-time singles wins leader, previously held by Leinani McAneney and Marti Pellicano. In her junior year, the Women’s Tennis team qualified for the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the first time.

On April 19, 2014, the Vikings clinched a spot in the postseason as a fourth seed with a 4-0 win over Idaho State. Three days later, Govi was named the Big Sky Conference player of the week after going 3-0 with wins over Eastern Washington and Idaho State. The team went on to reach the semi-finals after the team win over Montana State (4-2) in the semi-finals. The season ended to number-one seed and Big Sky Conference regular season titleholder Montana, 1-4.

This season she hoped that the team would get back to the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Govi entered her last year at PSU as one of two seniors with Alexa McDonald. On March 1, 2015, against Weber State, she became the all-time doubles leader partnering with Kelsey Frey to top Emily Tanner and Megan Rindlisbacher, 6-2. The Vikings would advance to their second straight postseason as the sixth seed. They faced the Montana Grizzlies in the quarterfinals, falling 0-4 with PSU leading in the remaining matches.

“I was so happy,” Govi said. “It was so hard. Every year we worked so hard. To not get there the first two years after the work we put in was heartbreaking, and to finally see it pay off was amazing. We had heart and each other. It is something I have never experienced because we all picked each other up.”

Govi expects the team to be back in the picture next year. The PSU Women’s Tennis team is returning seven of their nine players for next year.

“They will definitely be back,” Govi said. “The characteristics that we built on the team are strong, our talent is strong, and next year we will have leaders like Kelsey Frey and Dané Vorster.”

She would not be surprised at all if the team won the Big Sky Conference Tournament in the next few years.
“I would like to thank Jay Sterling,” Govi said. “He has put a lot into our program. I was one of his first recruits with Alexa after Marina Todd. Our program had a long way to go. He did a lot for the program. He put in a lot of extra hours. It has come a long way. It has been nice to stay with a team. It is so special to build a program.

“The love and support I got from my family when I began tennis was a huge reason why I believed in myself.”
Govi finishes a four-year career as the most decorated player in team history with the all-time lead in singles and doubles wins.

“I want to be remembered as a fighter and as a supporter,” she said. “I want the girls to remember how I played and let that motivate them on the court to not doubt themselves, that they can always come back because they are good enough. Those doubts are common not only in tennis, but in anything you do.”

After graduation, she will continue to play some open circuits from time to time. Recently, Govi started auditioning for theater companies doing some improvisation acting. She is currently participating with and hopes to explore those routes as well.