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Calling all seniors

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Today is November 6 2017. Your a senior and your last fall season is coming to an end. With the season slowing down, you have some time to reflect on where you are at in your life.

I remember being on Spring break in Alabama earlier this year with senior teammates who were stressing about the next step in their life.

One of my closest teammates, someone who was the biggest source of support for me, was planning her life after graduation.

Season is fast approaching and when that time comes, you want to have the next steps of your life as much in order as you can.

My teammate stressed the fact she wished she was more on top of her graduate school applications in November and December, way before she needed to apply.

Nevertheless, after all the stress and worry, she is happily moved on now and in grad school.

Even though this time of year is quiet for us tennis players, it is the time of year as a senior where you have some time to think, reflect and make steps towards graduating.

You don’t want your final season to be hindered by fear, worry and frustration towards what is going to happen in May.

Some of you might be feeling excited to graduate, some of you might be feeling nervous, and some of you might be dreading it.

The reality is, you might be finally feeling settled.

Your team dynamic for the first time might be perfect. You know the ropes, you are a leader in the team, and you are happy.

The thought of leaving it all behind is a daunting prospect, and one that doesn’t bear thinking about.

How did you get here? It seems like just yesterday you were in the dorms with new roommates, new food, and a new life. How can you be so close to the finish line?

Time flies by when your having fun right?

You start to appreciate the situation your in, and the fact you have a support network of teammates and friends outside of it.

How am I going to leave all this behind?

At first you are going to feel lost, alone, and you are going to have to start all over again, wherever you go.

If you are going back to your respective country, everything you knew before will have changed and friends will have moved on.

Whether you move to another state for graduate school, you will have to start again, it is not easy.

About three years ago, you stepped on a plane to fly halfway across the world to start a new life. Since then you have made a life for yourself, found friends, and found a like-minded group of people who you can relate to.

Starting again, just four years later, is only closing a chapter and opening a new one.

It does not mean you can’t return or ever see the people you spent your college years with. It does not mean you will never find friends again, and it does not mean you wont be successful in the future.

You have been successful within your athletic career or you would not be where you are today. But things are about to change in a few months, and you have to be open.

Be open to new experiences, new successes and new failures.

Enjoy and experience as much as you can within the next few months. Make sure the second that last match is over, you have no regrets.

You know you put every last ounce of energy into the season. That you gave everything to your teammates on and off the court, because you will never get this time again.

You don’t want to look back and wonder what you could have done more, or wish you can turn the clock to make changes.

It is important that you are ready to embrace changes in your life and not expect too much from yourself.

Be prepared for the days where you feel lost. The days where you have no direction, and the days where you wish you had your team around you.

But what would life be without new experiences?

Moving on is just the next step. Don’t overcomplicate it and feel down at the thought of leaving the life you know so well.

You will look back in a few years and only remember the good times you had. You won’t sit there and remember the days where you cried for hours because you were tired and stressed.

You will remember your teammates, the nights out and the memories you made.

Don’t shut the feelings of dread about the future out. Embrace them and know that in the end, you will get where you want to be.

Journalist and and former Student Athlete Athena Chrysanthou can be reached at or

Tennis is just a stepping stone

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For as long as you can remember, tennis has been the thing that makes you who you are. It makes you whole.

It is who you identify as, and has brought you to where you are at this present moment. Before you came to college, you had to put tennis first to give yourself this opportunity.

For your entire career, the addiction and need for competition is what gives you life. The college experience is about the continuation of achieving as an athlete, but it is more importantly about you growing as a person.

College is a place where you not only have the opportunity to work on your game and level of athleticism, but it is about finding who you are.

I would be lying if I said tennis before college allowed me to lead a normal teenage life. Naturally we sacrificed a social life and a normal school life because we put the sport first.

When we didn’t, we felt the consequences on the tennis court. College is the time to live and explore your personality, and to discover what you want to do in life.

Few athletes leave college, compete on the pro circuit, and achieve.

The majority enter a chosen career field and have to adapt without life as a competitive athlete.

A scary but very true prospect.

You know yourself as an athlete. You live for the wins, the losses, the pain, the gratification of overcoming a tough match.

You are the celebrities of the University. You have a skill that few others have, and you pride yourself in the fact you are on the tennis team.

It is very important that while you are experiencing this life, you are preparing for a new one.

As someone sitting here writing this behind three computer screens in a job that tests me on many different levels, I can honestly say I prepared myself to enter this world with my identity as a tennis player taken away.

Adjustment to life as a ‘normal’ human being is not easy. The second you finish that final match in college, you are not a college athlete anymore.

You have to enter the real world and compete with other people that have been preparing for the same specific career field as you, and they will have had more time.

Of course in college you would not be able to succeed as an athlete without sometimes struggling with school or putting it second.

You have not been able to adequately prepare yourself for a specific chosen career field, and you know what? That is ok.

Understand that you are a high achieving and determined person. You would not have got where you are without these traits, and these will be highly respected in the working world.

When college tennis is over, you have to give yourself time to adjust. You have to let yourself find a new identity.

Think about all the abilities and skills you have as a person that will ensure any job you go into, you will be able to succeed, it just may take more time.

You know how to be somewhere on time, you know how to follow instruction, you know how to be a part of a team, you know how to lead, you can persevere through failure, you have learnt to care for others and most importantly, you are competitive and you don’t give up.

So, if you don’t know how you are going to survive without the sport, trust me, you can.

The day I finished my last college tennis match, I left a part of myself on the tennis court that day.

Some days when I am sitting behind my desk I have been at for hours, feeling overwhelmed, tired, frustrated and behind, I remember what got through me tough experiences an athlete.

I remember that I have felt these things before and I got through it once before.

Apply yourself in the field you choose the same way you applied yourself to tennis. Tennis will always be there and you will always be that competitive athlete at heart, but a new chapter in life is not necessarily a bad one.

Journalist and and former Student Athlete Athena Chrysanthou can be reached at or

It’s not about you

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Remember the days where you were living out of your tennis bag, trekking from one tournament to another, eating on a tight budget? 

Those were the days where the most important person in your athletic career was you. Back then when you walked onto the court you walked as an individual. You won as an individual. In college, you step on the court with eight other girls behind you and you win for your team.  

One of the hardest transitions you will have in college and especially for tennis is, learning how to be a team player. Tennis is not a team sport and so this transition is not easy, because it’s not about you anymore. 

You have to be prepared to deal with situations as a team and take responsibility for a win and loss as a team. Understand that your energy, level of commitment and discipline is not a reflection of you, but of yourselves as a unit. 

Bad energy is toxic. A disease. It will spread and infect others around you so set negative feelings aside when they arise and do your best not to show them. 

Learn to love the people that you will spend mostly every waking hour with and learn to accept that you are not all the same and you are most likely not all from the same culture. 

Acceptance of one another is a good place to start. Accept that what might be normal in one culture is not in the other.

Be open to learning from your international teammates and vice versa. You will discover and open your mind to cultural customs you didn’t know existed, which will teach you important life lessons and values.

You will see members of your team at their best and their worst. You will spend hours on a cramped bus together, you will eat several meals together and you will grow as people together. 

One of the most difficult things however, is learning how to not let your energy affect and bring down your team. 

When you have been slaving on the court for hours and hours, get to that third set and lose 7-6, sulking in the restroom afterwards is a no go. 

You shake your opponent’s hand, grab a bag of ice and start cheering your brains out for the teammate next to you. Because that is your duty as a member of the team.

You have to be selfless. Put yourself second. Before college it might have been acceptable to throw headphones in and stare out of the window on the road home after a tough weekend. But not now.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of stepping on the bus, putting the beats on and falling asleep. While that is okay for a couple of hours, don’t make it a habit.

Engage with your teammates. Talk, play a silly game on the bus or watch movies together. Savor and share these moments because they are what solidify the bonds between you.

Again, this is something alien to us tennis players.

When you feel down or lonely, I promise you there is at least one other person on your team feeling the same way. The whole point of being on a team is to be there for each other in these kinds of situations.

Check in with your teammates, let them know you want to know how they are really feeling so you can help talk them through it.

Some of the experiences you will have on a college team will be some that will stick with you for the rest of your life. The best wins, losses, meals, hotel stays and weekends will be spent with your team.

In that unfortunate moment where you hate every single one of them, or someone irritates you or drama begins to circulate, remember these people are your family.

A family deals and perseveres through struggles. A family supports each other through thick and thin, and a family must let things go.

For these four years, this team is your family and you should treat them like it. Even in the most testing of times when all you want is to be alone, remember they are there for you and one day they wont be, so don’t take them for granted.

Journalist and and former Student Athlete Athena Chrysanthou can be reached at or

Mid-semester slump: what it is and how to overcome it

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Before the sun has risen, the familiar sounds of that 6 a.m. alarm buzzes as a stern reminder you have to be at the courts very soon.

Maneuvering your way out of bed with a tight back or sore shoulder at the crack of dawn is not an easy feat.

The thought of chasing fuzzy yellow balls around the tennis court for two hours before classes, weights and the rest makes getting out of bed a challenge.

Sound familiar?

Eight weeks in and it hits you. Whether you are a freshman or senior, when mid-terms hit and practices start catching up on you, it’s easy to begin feeling low and wondering how you will survive the rest of the semester. 

How am I going to survive? First mistake.

When you are overtired and stressed melodramatic language will start creeping into your vocabulary. The first thing you need to remember when you are feeling this way is that you are not a victim.

You chose to be part of this team and you are both lucky and privileged to be there. It is about that point in the semester where school starts mounting up, you are on the road a lot and homesick.

The reality is, you are behind. You are tired and you are still adjusting. But it is ok to be behind. You just have to learn how to manage it.  

Complaining, moaning and feeling sorry for yourself is not productive and will not change anything. Embracing each day and accepting some will be better than others is a good place to start.

At this point in the semester keeping track of what is going on in your classes and the days things are due is crucial to making work doesn’t slip.

If you have spare time to get something done now that is due next week, do it, because I guarantee you something else will come up and you will be writing that paper the day it is due.  

Keeping a notebook or journal and writing down to do lists for each day is something that will act as an aid to remind you what you need to do and maybe even some days, what time practice is.

If you feel yourself getting concerned about all the things you need to do writing it on paper is a way to transfer the stress from your brain to paper.

Laying it all out and crossing off what you have completed is more satisfactory than what you might think.  

For you freshman or transfers, being in a new place and joining a new team can take an entire semester to adjust to.

Feeling connected to your team is extremely important in helping you manage other struggles being an athlete.

Ask questions, observe, and learn from your teammates, especially the seniors. They have been through it all. All the emotions, the homesickness, the injuries and the bad days.

Talking about how you feel or asking for advice is not a sign of weakness. I guarantee they have been there before. 

Leaning on family and staying connected with them at this tune during the semester can be a real comfort to assure you nothing at home has changed.

Even though your life is changing on a daily basis, which can be both draining and overwhelming, it is nice to know everything is still the same at home. 

Don’t wish the weeks away, or wait for a time that it will get easier, because it won’t. From here on in, more challenges will arise and you have to face them with an open mind and an open heart.

You will make mistakes, and you will learn from them. Be open to criticism and don’t take things personally. One of the last pieces of advice I would give for now is to remember, no matter how sore you are, how tired, exhausted, homesick and generally lost, every single one of these feelings makes you stronger and will help you grow as a person in the long run.

Don’t give in to the feelings that want to put you down. Remember the paperwork, the stress and the uncertainty leading up to how you got where you are and how many people wish to be where you are right now.

Journalist and and former Student Athlete Athena Chrysanthou can be reached at or