Senior Week

Three years ago today, I was only three months in to my first season playing tennis for the Georgia Bulldogs. Today, I am the lone senior being honored this weekend at our last two regular season SEC matches. Wow, how time flies.

I could sit here and write for hours about what I have learned throughout these very rewarding years playing Division I tennis for one of the top programs in the country. But more than anything, I have learned the irreplaceable value of teamwork and leadership.

Being a student-athlete at UGA has taught me numerous valuable life lessons that I have been able to apply now as well as take into my life after athletics. Before coming to college, tennis was an individual sport where I learned the value of hard work, persistence, and resilience. Through my athletic experience at UGA and because tennis became a team sport at the collegiate level, I have truly learned the significance of teamwork. I have teammates from many diverse cultures and backgrounds, and we all think differently. One of the most rewarding parts of teamwork and leadership has been bringing my teams together each year to buy into the common culture of excellence at UGA and within our tennis program. Buying into a common belief in the way we do things allows us to then reach for common goals such as a National Championship.

Because of my experience as an athlete at UGA, I am confident that in the business world I will be able to work well with many different types of people and lead them to make the right decisions. I am confident in my ability to solve problems and pull a group of people together to reach a benchmark or goal. The lessons I have had throughout the past few years provide me qualities that will be beneficial in all aspects of my future life. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be a student-athlete at the University of Georgia. With Senior Day coming up this week, I have every reason to be grateful and every reason to reach out to others and lead them to take advantage of the opportunities and learning experiences I have been fortunate enough to have.

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Up, Up, and Away

Another day in the history books for the Georgia’s Women’s Tennis Team. Thursday, April 6, 2017 we took our first private chartered plane flight as a team to Fayetteville, Arkansas. However, it was not the ideal beautiful day in Athens to be flying on a smaller-than-normal plane. For most, planes don’t generate much fear. But for many, they do. My head coach (seen standing third from the left, with myself fourth from the left) is one of those that does not particularly care for the turbulence during flights. With high wind speeds and a plethora of clouds to rise above, yesterday was quite the bumpy ride.

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I was thoroughly entertained with my head coach sitting directly behind me as I would turn around to see him gripping the arm rest with an expression of concern on his face. Yet, it made me think more about this fear of flying or fear of turbulence during flights. Why do we have this fear when close to 100,000 flights take place each day around the world and the number of “successful flights” far surpasses the troubles or failures? My answer to this question: the media.

Unfortunately, the media is full of negative news. Why does the media concentrate on the bad things in life, rather than the good? It is not that these are the only things happening in the world. Just food for thought. I do not exactly have the answer for this, but I’d like to hear it if someone knows. I want to see more positivity in the news, in the world, in all of our lives. A good attitude is infectious. And as I always like to remind others, attitude will take you where skill and knowledge can’t take you.

Back to the positive news. It was a successful trip to Fayetteville as we took down a tough Arkansas team 4-0 Friday night. We jumped back on the plane this morning at 9:30am and were at the tennis complex in Missouri practicing by 11am. Pretty amazing how efficient and easy the private plane life is! We will take on the Missouri Tigers tomorrow, Sunday, afternoon at 1pm CT to conclude our last SEC road matches for the year. 3 regular season SEC matches left! We are ready to make the most of each! And as always, Go Dawgs!

#6 Georgia defeats #1 Florida, 4-1

We did it. We ended the streak. We ended the longest active streak of any NCAA Division I sport, which included 164 consecutive home match wins dating back to 2004.

We were out for revenge and we had our sights set on the gators. The Georgia/Florida sports rivalry is one with deep roots, and it is no different with the women’s tennis programs. These two programs have historically battled it out for the top spot in the SEC, and yesterday was one of the biggest challenges we have had against them since my time at Georgia. A little over a month ago, we lost to the #1 Florida Gators 4-0 in the Semifinals of the National Indoors. Yesterday, we entered the match 9-3 overall with a 3-1 mark in conference play. Their record stood at 13-0 on the year, 3-0 in SEC play, and a #1 national ranking on the line. We had nothing to lose and everything to gain, but we knew it was not going to be an easy task. We knew we had to take the match from them from the first point of doubles to the last point of singles, and that is exactly what we did.

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The match kicked off at 5pm with three lines of doubles, where one team must win 2 out of the 3 courts to win the doubles point. Our #3 doubles team lost a 6-3 set to a tough Florida team. This left all eyes on our other two doubles teams. We now had to win both courts for the doubles point. On the #1 doubles court, my partner Ellen and I beat the #14 ranked team in the country and defending doubles national champions, 7-5. However, this left us needing the #2 doubles court for the point, and our team was down a break. After some high level tennis, we came out on top with another 7-5 set and took a 1-0 overall match score lead heading into singles.

We have not beat the Gators since SEC regular season my freshman year, three years ago. We were out for more than beating that streak and taking a win, we wanted a beat down. After doubles, we cruised in our singles matches only taking one loss, and winning 3 courts easily at #1, #2, and #6 singles to clinch the match 4-1. The victory was so sweet! Even though there has been a lot of pride and attention after this win, we know we have to keep our concentration on the task ahead. We have seven more SEC matches to go to win a ring, and we need to win every one of them. One at a time, we will fight. One at a time, we will put up a dawg fight.

Trip to the ER

I lay in the hospital bed with my phone, laptop, a bottle of water, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers next to me. Nurses come in to check on me, to transport me, even to take me to the bathroom. I am used to doing things for myself- I am a very independent person, but I suppose I should just be content with being taken care of while I am here. They keep telling me not to worry, that it is their job. Nevertheless, I greet everyone with a big smile and a friendly conversation. This may not seem like your typical hospital patient’s attitude, but I feel no reason to act any different because of my situation. The man in the room across the hall from me is yelling at the nurses telling them he is getting out of his bed. Truth is he only has one leg and is supposed to be on bed rest. The nurses come in tired of being cursed at but still put on their best face for me. I want to make their day just a little bit easier by putting my best face on for them!

So, why am I in the hospital? I am still wondering this myself. We don’t have all the answers yet. Yesterday afternoon, our team started our typical Monday practice on the courts. I had only begun to warm up hitting for about 4 minutes when I realized that my fourth finger on my right (dominant) hand was losing color. Soon enough, it was numb and completely white. I immediately ran over to my trainer who played with it to get some blood pumping and revived its color. After it returned to normal conditions, I went back to hitting and it was only a matter of minutes before it came back with a vengeance. We knew this lack of blood flow was not normal, so I called it quits on practice and any physical activity for the rest of the day. The athletic doctors checked it out and said I would be in to see the vascular surgeon first thing in the morning. I went home and a few hours later, I had lost all feeling in the top of my finger. The feeling was not coming back even an hour later. They decided to take me to the ER and start me on blood thinners, and this is where I have been since 10pm last night.

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A look at my finger during practice Monday afternoon

Now we sit here playing the waiting game. I am anxious to know what is going on with the circulation to my finger, but regardless of the news, I will try my best to remain positive. My head thinks back to the priest’s homily at mass on Sunday. He said, “Attitude takes you farther than skill and knowledge can take you.” I believe that there is no other way to handle so many questions and unknown answers regarding my health than to do it with a positive attitude. Just as the nurses bring a positive light to the room every time I have to bug them to use the restroom or to check my vitals, I will bring a positive attitude to make their day better and to make the best of my situation!

Tech Week

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What does it mean for any athletic team at the University of Georgia when Tech is coming to town? It means it is time to show the yellow jackets, once again, who runs this state. For our team, this is always a huge match at the beginning of every outdoor season. Georgia Tech has always been good, but we have historically been better. They are currently ranked #13 in the country, and we are ranked #3. As it is this year, we are normally the favorite in this match-up, however we know that this team will always bring their very best against us because of the nature of the rivalry.

So, what does this week look like for us? Focus. Discipline. Preparation. We know we have more talent all the way down the line, and we know we will win this match if we do things the right way. But what does doing things the right way mean? It means that we are focused this whole week with all things including treatment, practice, weights, and running. We get to work when we need to and focus on the quality of what we are doing. It also means discipline. It means being responsible in getting to the training room early in order to get all the work done we need before practice. It means eating the right way throughout the week and hydrating way before hand. Finally, it all means preparation. Preparing our bodies, our minds, and our games for this in-state rivalry match come Friday afternoon at 3pm.

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When the match begins, we will come out rocking and rolling. But, we know that this will be a battle. We know that the yellow jackets won’t just back down after our first punch. We will keep our level of energy and performance high throughout the duration of the match, and we will rise even higher every time they push their games up to meet ours. We will continue to throw punches until the dawg fight has been won. This is how we play, this is why we are so tough.

This week is an exciting week, it’s Tech Week. Go Dawgs- we run this state.

“Snowed In”doors

A trip to New Haven, Connecticut over the past week found a bunch of southern girls accustomed to the Georgia weather in a snow storm. I traveled with my team to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Tournament held at Yale University. We were snowed in, to the indoor courts that is. However, it called for some interesting drives to and from the tennis facility and the hotel. The snow storm might have been cold and windy, but it provided a beautiful scenery for some great videos pictures to share with our fans keeping up on social media.

We drew a tough draw, running into Duke (ranked #10 in the country) first round. We had a bit of a slow start and lost the doubles point, going down 0-1. However, we proceeded to win 4 straight singles matches to clinch a 4-1 victory and move on to the Quarterfinal round. The next day, we had the challenge of facing Pepperdine University, ranked #3 and three spots ahead of us. We once again had a bumpy doubles start and started the match down 0-1. However, 4 more singles victory put us at a 4-1 win and a spot in the Semifinals against the #1 ranked Florida Gators.

The gators proved to be a little too tough for us on Sunday as we fell 4-0 after losing a tough fought doubles point and three singles matches. We had three singles matches remaining on court (when the match was clinched) that could have been Georgia points, but even a 4-3 loss would not have been enough to advance to the Finals of the National Indoor Championship.

Our team went up to New Haven, Connecticut to prove that we are one of the best teams in the country. We did that, and we also proved that we have our best ahead of us. We will continue to work hard and prepare to start our outdoor season next week. This journey will take us all the way to the end of May with the biggest stage in collegiate tennis, outdoor National Championships being held in Athens, Georgia.

Super Bowl Comeback

Tom BradyThis Super Bowl Sunday, the New England Patriots made one of the greatest comebacks, if not the greatest, of all time. Games like those are exactly the reason I love sports. No one has lost the game, no matter the score, until the clock runs out.

Many people watch the Super Bowl for the much anticipated commercials. They then turn to social media for posting their thoughts and sharing their praises or critiques. I, however, watch the game for the love of football and the love of competition in general. You put the best of the best on the biggest stage in professional football, and they battle it out. That is when you see athletes’ true character show. That is when, against all odds, you see the most unbelievable comebacks in the game.

I am choosing to write a little less today than I normally would first because I am traveling with my team to competition and second because I want to make my point very clear. You are never out of the game (sports, dating, work) until time runs out. Keep working at it, show persistence and determination, and a will to do whatever it takes to be successful. These qualities can take any person or athlete very far in life’s game.

A Successful Start

With my long-awaited senior season as a tennis player for the University of Georgia starting this past weekend, I want to share a bit about what it all means to me today.

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When people say, “time flies”…they aren’t kidding at all. The past three years have been a dream come true, but they have truly “flown by.” As a student-athlete at UGA, I have not only been able to attend one of the most prestigious public universities in the country, but I have also been able to play for one of the most storied Division I women’s tennis programs ever.

This past August came fast, school started up again, and it was hard for me to accept the fact that I was the senior on the team with it all ending in May (it seemed a bit further away at that point). Of course I was enjoying my time, but I was letting it all happen much too quickly. I had some very important advice given to me around November, and it is advice I will never forget. The advice was to live for myself, to live to grow and become the person I want to be, and to use this senior year to get to know myself even better and to leave confident with what I stand for and why. It allowed me to slow everything down and really enjoy my time left in my role as a student-athlete. You see, tennis has been my life for the past fifteen years. I have dedicated close to all of my time out of the classroom to becoming the best tennis player I could be. But I had been caught thinking too much about how my life would be so different come May. Until, with this help, I realized that much more important than that was being able to really enjoy the few months left of this journey and grow throughout that time.

We are now a day away from February, leaving me with about four months left of this walk in my life. But I am at peace with that! We had a very successful start to our season this past weekend with two home wins to book us a ticket to the National Indoor Championships in New Haven, Connecticut next week. I can truly say that I just enjoyed every second of both doubles and both singles matches I played this past weekend. No match felt too long or frustrating no matter what the circumstances were. I was just enjoying every moment of it, slowing it down, and taking it all in. When I look at the picture posted below from this past weekend, I see every part of me just enjoying competing, which is what I do best. This weekend was not only a successful start to our season with two wins, but it was a successful start to the growth I will experience throughout the season due to the challenges the game of tennis and the game of life present me.tennis

Where is the Love?

 

Politics have been a hot topic in the United States lately and the majority of Americans (and non-Americans for that matter) have expressed their feelings all over social media. Just when the political comments started to die post election, Donald Trump was inaugurated this past Friday, and the internet was flooded with even more hateful comments and remarks. Many use the internet and social media as a platform to share their feelings and thoughts- I am doing exactly that right now. However, I do not believe that all the hate is helping create any sort of unity in this country. Regardless of political stance, we should be promoting love, not hatred. We should accept that not everyone will ever agree on politics, and our preferred candidate will not always win. But when the election is over, that is not in our control anymore, so why are people continuing to complain about it? How is the hate and divisiveness going to help our country and our people unite? It will not. All it is doing is pulling us further apart.

I read an article last night that showed the demoralizing tweets sent out about Donald Trump’s son, Barron. One tweet was sent out by now suspended SNL writer Katie Rich saying, “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter.”katie

Who can feel good about themselves after posting such hatred comments about an innocent boy who is just living with the hand that was dealt to him? Or as the article mentioned, how would those people who shared such nasty comments feel if that was said about their child, sister or brother? Barron Trump is a ten year old boy who is innocent and should not be publicly harassed. What is wrong with these people? Don’t they have anything better to do or anything more positive to talk about rather than bashing our President’s young and naive son? I urge each of you, whether you are Donald Trump’s biggest fan or the farthest thing from it, to look for positive news to share each day. If you cannot seem to share positive news about him, then stay away from sharing the news at all.

It makes me sad to see all of the hate and negativity surrounding our new President. Regardless of what he has said or done in the past, the American people chose him to lead our country. He may be flawed, but news flash: we all have flaws. He wants what is best for the United States of America, and we need to be supportive. We may not agree with his political views or his plans for our country, but the least we can do is hope for his and our success. Give him a chance to lead and to change our country for the better! May we look to love and unity instead of hatred and division throughout such a time where Americans have become engulfed in a negative world on social media. My wish is for all of us to look to spread positivity and hope we can change the stigma that all news is bad news. Let us make social media a platform for sharing our love and the most positive news we have!

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Create Meaningful Relationships

Our team arrived at the Dan Magill Tennis Center for 9:30am practice this past Saturday morning. Shortly after, our head coach announced that we would watch a fifteen-minute video together before practice began. Little did I know that this video would have such an immediate impact on my outlook on technology and social media in today’s world. The video highlights British/American motivational speaker and marketing consultant Simon Sinek speaking on “Millenials in the Workplace.” I HIGHLY suggest taking fifteen minutes of your time to watch this video:

Throughout the video, my eyes were quickly opened to how much of an addiction technology and social media are to our generation, the millennials. Many kids are not learning how to form meaningful relationships. When stress comes about in these kids’ lives, they don’t turn to people, they turn to their cellphones or to social media, which only provide temporary relief. Simon Sinek’s point was that there’s nothing wrong with social media except the IMBALANCE of it. Too much of anything…alcohol, gambling, technology is not good. It is an addiction. The minute we get consumed with this addiction, we forget to focus on the important things in life such as our relationships with our family, friends, teammates, etc. Social media and technology infiltrate our lives and there are certainly many benefits to the advancements that have been made, but we must be careful to keep a healthy balance.

After watching the video together, we sat down as a team and talked about the effects of social media and the addiction that most of us all have. We see it in everyday life–we get in an elevator with people we don’t know and immediately look down at our phone to avoid awkward eye contact or conversation. Here is a perfect example of missing out on forming a connection or a relationship with another human being because of turning to technology and social media as an escape. As we brought up examples, I mentioned that we are a close team, only 9 girls, and we all know each other very well. However, by sitting on our phones in the locker room during the ten minutes before practice starts, we are missing out on the opportunity to talk to one another and deepen our relationships. We may think we know everything about each other, but there is always more to learn. If we are consumed in social media on our phones, we may miss the most obvious warning signs that friends or teammates need us to be there for them.

Although this social media marketing example may be highlighting some of the problems with social media today, it is important to realize its extreme effects. My hope is that we are able to use social media in good balance and that we keep forming meaningful relationships with one another. As an effort to make small improvements, I chose to deactivate my most frequented form of social media, Snapchat, for the time being. My advice to you all is to take the time to turn your phone off, leave it at home, look UP and create new and meaningful relationships.