Norfolk Ladies county player Talitha Rowan headed out to North Carolina (Wesleyan) College, USA last summer after being awarded an academic and tennis scholarship.
In here first year playing on the team, she has had both individual and team success and NLTA asked her some questions about her first year at an american university:-
Which College are you at?
North Carolina Wesleyan College
Who have you been competing against?
so we were competing in our Conference Tournament which we qualified for by coming second in our division. We lost to Methodist university (who we beat at the tournament in the video) which is why we all went so crazy because we lost the ‘regular season conference championship’ to them away at theirs 5-4 and they are our rivals who we had beaten in a friendly match two week earlier 5-4. We had to watch them on friday evening at an awards ceremony receive the trophy for that.
The conference is the USA south conference you can find more details about on their website http://www.usasouth.net
So it was a three day tournament held at La Grange, Georgia which was such a long trip for us we left on Thursday at supposedly 12pm but as we pulled away from the tennis courts on the coach there was a massive bang and our tire had burst so we didn’t leave for another hour and a half, this was probably good luck! We stopped in Florence, South Carolina to practice during the day but didn’t end up getting to the hotel until 1:30am and were playing at 10am.
The first day in the quarter finals we played a team called Covenant who we have lost to the last two previous years in the semi finals. So we play three doubles first, then six singles. We beat them 7-2 going into the singles 2-1up from the doubles.
The second day we played Piedmont who we had previously played in a friendly match and beaten 6-3. We went into the singles 2-1 down which was a shock because we had won all three doubles the previous time. However, brought it back to win 5-4 whilst Methodist won their semi-finals 8-1 so they were very confident.
Then on Saturday we found out the next day there was a 100% chance of rain, the previous two days we had been playing in 30 degree sunshine. However, it’s not common to go indoors so we just spent the whole of Sunday morning waiting to hear what was happening at about 1:30pm we were told we had to travel an hour north to Atlanta city to play at Georgia Tech facilities which were amazing! So it was kind of a positive and Atlanta was so cool, and we also knew that being indoors would benefit our players more than them. We didn’t start playing til 4pm bearing in mind our Men’s team were also playing them in the final after us but they always win 9-0 so we had the pressure on us to be as successful.
The doubles didn’t go very well my partner and I lost our pro-set 8-1 which is the worst we’ve done against them, the first time losing 9-8 in a tie break.We played so nervous and tight. We went into the singles 2-1 down and our coaches were not happy and gave us some tough love but we came back. All playing at the same time everyone started well however then we all went down in the first set, I was 3-1 up and then went 5-3 down however saved a few set points and came back to win the first set 7-5. Once I had won that our number six finished her match making the score 2-2, however our number one player and number three player lost their first sets. But then our number five won her match so it was 3-2 but our number one and three were losing their second luckily after a close first game I went 3-0 up. So then our number 2 won and our number 1 lost making it 4-3 to us. I was 4-0 up and just trying to concentrate as there was loads of spectators watching and the teams on the court. The number three was about to lose to make it 4-4 but I just said to her please just stay on the court to take the pressure off me a bit haha. So she did, and I went 5-0 up. I was so nervous because the team has always lost to this team and they were defending champions and beat us in the season and also I wanted to do it for the graduating seniors because it meant a lot to them. So I just played very safe (as you can see) went 40-0 up and then won that point, and we all went crazy haha, and no one could believe it!
It was so good because the other team have a really horrible coach who walks on the courts literally during the points and tells them bullying techniques in the matches like demanding us to call out the score etc. After we celebrated I went to shake the girls hand but she was crying so much into the back net that I had to shake someone elses.
I won an award for the East Division Second Team as I didn’t lose in our regular season and at the presentation I also won an award for the tournament because I didn’t lose a singles match and so did Stephany, and Giulia won the most valuable player award.
What is training like?
We train six days a week between 2-3 hours a day, and also in our off season have fitness three times a week. However, because it’s division three there’s an emphasis on ‘student athletes’ so our coaches make sure we put our studies first and this makes us able to have less pressure on our time which is good because we still compete and train but are able to focus. I currently have a 3.8 out of 4 GPA.
Do you get to travel alot?
The traveling is the fun part, I have currently been to North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia just from playing tennis matches so it’s a great way to get away from campus and visit different places. I have an amazing team which makes things a lot more fun, it’s amazing that I’ve not only learnt the US culture but so many others as well. I share a room with Louise so I’ve learnt so much about the Swedish culture and most of my team are Latinas so I know a lot about south american culture now and my Spanish is improving by the day.
Who are your team mates?
Our line up is:
1 Florrencia Sorrentino (Argentina)
2 Giulia Zanetti (Italy)
3 Nicole Halabi (Venezuela)
5 Stephany Barbera (Venezuela)
6 Louse Hovhammar (Sweden)
What is life like at an american college?
If I’m honest I would say coming to live here hasn’t necessarily been the best thing I feel at the moment I’ve currently done however in the future I believe that I will be so thankful for what I’ve learnt. It’s extremely difficult to live in an unknown culture, and I was naive thinking I wasn’t that international because I spoke the same language, but I actually struggle the most out of the international students because it’s supposedly the same but it’s so so different, I still learn multiple things daily about the differences and I don’t know how I would have made it without my American boyfriend because helps so much about learning the culture, at my college most internationals don’t mix with americans they just stay in the international groups (I would say it’s very like the movies) however because I met him I’ve been able to learn so much more. Where I am in a rural, southern area though is very different to other parts of the US there’s so much diversity here that it just depends where you go and up north I think is much more similar to the English culture.
What does winning the South Conference mean for the team, what next?
The tournament win means we qualify for regionals May 11-13, and we currently don’t know where they are yet, but if we win there we go to nationals that’s in California.