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October 13, 2009
By Mary Hunton
When it comes to balancing academia and good game playing, the University of Nevada, Reno’s women’s tennis team has mastered the skill.
Not only does the team have the high collective GPA of 3.7, which qualifies them as an ITA All Academic team, but they have also qualified for the ITA Indoor Championships to be held next January at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Other than having such an outstanding record academically and athletically, the team is also made up primarily of international students. According to Sylvain Malroux, the team’s coach, this may have something to do with their success, but it most definitely is not the largest contributing factor.
“Education in Europe is much stronger than the education in the U.S. in high school,” Malroux said. “That’s part of the success. The other reason is you’ve got to be very organized, you’ve got to be very committed and you’ve got to be serious.”
And the girls are serious. With the support of the academic center, advisors, and tutors, the team stays on top of not only their game but their school work as well.
“I ask them to go to six hours of study hall every single week,” Malroux said. “I also ask them to visit with their academic advisor every week. I think this makes a tremendous difference.”
Another reason the team has done so well is their personal relationships with one another. According to Aodhnait Lombard, who is now in her second year playing for the University, this may have factored into their accomplishments.
“There’s a lot of travelling, especially in the spring, so you get to know each other really well,” Lombard said. “That’s probably why the success was good last year.”
Lombard grew up playing tennis in Ireland, and she moved to the United States to pursue a higher education due to her interest in the sport. Though she started out in Charleston, S.C., she transferred to Reno last fall because of the tennis program here.
“The school was a lot smaller back in Charleston,” Lombard said. “The program was smaller, too, and so we didn’t play as high level of competition.”
Of the 320 programs in the country, the women’s team has qualified within the top 75 for the past three years, and last year they were in the top 50. They are also going to be playing in the ITA indoor championships.
“We are actually sitting number three and we play Brown University first round,” said Malroux, “and the winner of our match will advance to play either Harvard or Baylor.”
The women’s team isn’t the only one looking at potential success nationally, either. Since the head coach of the men’s team left last June, Malroux has been put in charge of them as well. He believes that they have a good possibility at making it into the championships.
“We’ve got a great team on the men’s side,” Malroux said. “I think we’ve got the chance to make nationals as well.”