Ever since middle school, I knew I wanted to play D-I tennis.
Sure, I was young, but I was determined to make it happen. So much so that in seventh grade, I knew I had to do whatever it took to turn this dream into a reality.
I had to go all-in.
As a result, my family and I decided to do homeschooling.
To gain something, you must lose something.
For me, that meant I had to miss out on the traditional path of education, so I could further focus on tennis. Now, this isn’t a sob story because, to be honest, I wasn’t exactly in love with the construct of traditional school, to begin with.
So, I was okay with the things I was going to miss out on if it meant to play college tennis at the D-I level one day.
I joined the Lake Tennis Academy in Frisco, Texas, and absolutely loved my time there. It had the perfect conditions, allowing me to become the athlete I wanted to be.
It was hard, though.
I’m talking five-hour training days — morning workouts, afternoon workouts, and countless hours on the court.
Despite the intense demands, I knew it was the only way.
The hard work and dedication began paying off during my junior year when I started getting offers from D-I schools.
My main focus was to get out of Texas.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Texas and my family, but I wanted to leave and do my own thing, you know? Get away from it all and experience something new.
So, I focused on SEC schools and eventually signed with Tennessee.
Once I got to Tennesse, it wasn’t long before I felt a bit homesick.
I always thought getting away from home was what I wanted. But in reality, I was missing the close connection to my family. Badly.
I realized that the freedom that comes with being away from home didn’t outweigh how much I missed my family. I love having them at all my competitions.
I always appreciated my family, but distance makes the heart grow fonder. It became clear that their impact on my life was even stronger than I realized.
They were there for me when others weren’t.
When I was a child, for example, I was in a back brace for four years. Many parents may have tried to convince their child that a future in sports may not be realistic, but my family knew how much the D-I dream meant to me, and they kept supporting me day in day out.
Long story short, they’ve been there from the start, and I wanted them to experience this part of my life with me.
So, after one year with the Volunteers, I decided to head home.
And when I looked at the options in Texas, SMU was my clear-cut choice.
It had the coaching I wanted, teammates that I liked, and an excellent education.
And most importantly, SMU felt like home.
As a junior, I still have a lot of time left in my tennis career. I have big goals, and I’m working hard on them every day.
Towards the end of my first season at SMU, I tore my labrum and have been on a long road to recovery ever since. Endless hours of rehab and preparing myself mentally for the road ahead was challenging. And frankly, it’s still difficult as my shoulder will probably never feel ‘normal’ again.
But hey, that’s okay. Just as I knew I could accomplish my dream of playing D-I tennis back in the day, I know I can reach my goal of being an All-American now, too — it’s what fuels me today.
I’m almost back to 100% and can’t wait to get back out there and compete for SMU this season. It’s going to be a blast.
My choice to be here at SMU was an all-encompassing one. It was about my family, my athletics, and my education. For me, being a Mustang means dedicating yourself to the things you love and working hard to achieve the goals you have.
I’ve loved my journey so far, and despite the challenges we’re all facing, I’m looking forward to 2022 being another great year at SMU!