Those who really know me know that I have grown up playing tennis since age four. I have never really known life without it. I played in all of the USTA junior tournaments, traveled to the out-of-town tournaments, played in the Mississippi Qualifier tournament and Southerns sectional tournament every summer, and competed on the Jackson Prep tennis team for six years.
My senior year of high school I had to make the hardest decision of my life: do I play college tennis or do I try to live a life without it? That question haunted me for several months until I finally heard an alternative option that I had never heard before. My mom had heard that Ole Miss, my #1 pick for college, has a “Club Tennis Team”. When I first heard this, I just pictured a bunch of college kids messing around not getting much competition. Club sports are more intense, and my high school self did not realize that until I actually tried it out.
I toured Delta State University (a division II school) and was extremely close to committing to their tennis team. I absolutely loved the campus and the atmosphere. The questions that I pondered most were “Am I going to have time for a social life? Will I be able to join a sorority? Will I have any down-time at all?”. Of course looking back, I can say that I was overthinking everything. College is not just about the sorority life or the social environment, but it’s about what makes a person truly happy.
Once I realized that, I went forth with my decision to go to Ole Miss. I did some research on the Club Tennis Team and decided that I would play. I wanted to be as committed as possible, while still being able to enjoy the social aspects of Ole Miss. My main focus for my future was that I would still be able to play the sport that I love while making a large amount of new friends.
Moving forward to August of my freshman year in college....my older sister Carly, my best friend Margaret, and I went to our first club tennis practice. We were intimidated as we walked up to the courts not knowing a soul. Before we had even stepped onto the sidewalk, Bryce Davis (president of Club Tennis last year) welcomed us, asked our names, and assigned us a court. It was the most “chill” entrance I have ever experienced. He didn’t put us on the spot at all, which I was satisfied with.
Practice went well; we played sets and met many new friends. My favorite part about it was that none of it was forced. Everything was laid back and welcoming. From that moment on, I knew that this was “my place” and it was where I could play the sport that I love.
Looking back at my freshman year, I wouldn’t change a thing. I didn’t know how I would be able to balance my sorority, my academics, and my other extra curricular activities with club tennis. Then I found out that everything is optional: the player decides how involved he or she wants to be. Practices are completely optional as are the tournaments. If a player has a busy school week, he or she can skip a day or two.
We played in a total of four tournaments last year which include: Atlanta, Georgia for the Emory University tournament, Auburn, Alabama for the sectionals tournament, Chattanooga, Tennessee for the UT Chattanooga tournament, and here in Oxford where we hosted our own tournament. The tournaments are extremely competitive, and we play several other SEC schools.
Joining Ole Miss Club Tennis has been the best decision of my life. Not only have I been able to continue playing the sport that I adore, but I’ve also formed so many new strong friendships along the way. The environment makes me feel secure and enjoy true happiness, which is what I was looking for in college. I was able to join a sorority that I love and make so many amazing friendships through that as well.
Exercising in college is an action that many students find to be time-consuming and difficult. As soon as I went to my first practice I knew it was the thing for me. Club Tennis is a scheduled, fun way to for me to be active. It became a way for me to pursue my passion for tennis instead of forcing myself to do something strenuous that I did not want to do.
Joining club sports shows that a person can still fulfill their passion of sports while enjoying a regular college lifestyle. I highly recommend club sports to any high schooler who is deciding their college path. It lets you experience all different parts of college like no other. I am thankful for the impact that Ole Miss Club Tennis has had on my life, and I will cherish all of the memories forever.