Senior Captain Brings Diverse Team Together
May 6, 2010
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - --Written by Jeremy Rosenthal
The Indiana University women's tennis team brings together players from France, Russia, England and Portugal. Only two student-athletes are from the U.S.
One of those is senior captain Lindsey Stuckey, who hails from Greensboro, N.C.
As a leader of the team, Stuckey has helped with the adjustment of the international players, including junior Myriam Sopel, a native of Longnes, France.
When Sopel was a freshman and Stuckey a sophomore, Stuckey took a couple French classes, and practiced the language with Sopel. Sopel said she appreciated the connection in relation to her native language and that Stuckey helped her adjust to life on and off the tennis court.
"Lindsey helped me grow on the court as a tennis player and as a person," Sopel said. "When I came as a freshman, she was a sophomore and she provided support and affection when I needed it."
Growing up in North Carolina, Stuckey started playing tennis at age 7, along with basketball and soccer, until she decided to focus solely on tennis at the age of 14.
"I made it my everyday routine where I would go to the tennis courts for an hour and then spend the rest of the day at the pool with my friends," Stuckey said.
The work paid off for Stuckey, as she made the varsity team for Greensboro Day School as a seventh grader, and was the top player all four years of high school.
Initially Stuckey hoped to continue her tennis career at currently No. 1 ranked North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but her parents, who both went to Ohio State, encouraged her to look at other schools as well.
IU coach Lin Loring, who holds the record for most wins in Division I history, did not recruit Stuckey at first. It was Stuckey who e-mailed Loring to express her interest. After he saw her play, Loring noticed her pace off both sides, a solid forehand and backhand and good foot speed and wanted her to visit.
Stuckey, who intended to major in finance, knew IU had a great business school and decided to spend her next four years in Bloomington. Coming from a class size of 65 in high school to a class size of 7,000 at IU was not easy.
"I came here and did not know anyone," she said. "It was all new. It was a little bit of an adjustment, but I felt like I loved it from the very start."
Pursuing a major in the prestigious Kelley School of Business and playing tennis at IU have been good experiences for Stuckey.
"I think the tennis helps you stay on top of your academics, because you have to have good time management skills," she said. "You have to get things done first, and then you can do your leisurely stuff second. You have to stay on top of things if you want to be in collegiate athletics, because your schedule is so busy."
On the court, Stuckey has led the team in singles wins in three of her four years, including a mark of 26-9 this year. She has also teamed with sophomore Evgeniya Vertesheva, a native of Perm, Russia, for a 15-5 record in doubles matches. Off the court she has helped the team win the Herbert Cup four semesters in a row, which goes to the team with the highest grade point average.
The sport of tennis can be emotional and intense, but Stuckey said she tries to not let a previous point affect her play on future points. Loring said this helps her and draws a comparison to one of the games best.
"She keeps it within and plays level-headed, and normally does not have the big swings in emotion, keeps her game a little steadier," he said. "She is a lot like Federer in the sense that she is pretty calm and collected out there. She is easy to coach because of that."
With her IU tennis career coming to a close in the next few weeks, Stuckey has a bright future ahead of her. Next fall, she will be working for Ernst & Young in Chicago as a business advisor.
One of her former teammates, Alba Berdala, also works for a marketing firm in Chicago, and Stuckey hopes to catch up with her. Having so many foreign teammates gives her an excuse to go on a tour of Europe to visit them.
Loring said Stuckey's experience at the Kelley School of Business and on the tennis team, have prepared her well for the next step in her life.
"The fact that she works well in a team situation, which is what businesses are looking for these days, she is used to being part of a team," he said. "She is used to being the leader of a team. She will be very successful in the business world."
For Stuckey, leaving IU will be sad, but she will always cherish the time she had in Bloomington.
"There is something about IU, the atmosphere, the people," Stuckey said. "I think I will remember most, not necessarily the wins and losses of tennis, but being a part of a team. I think it's been a really great experience playing on behalf of Indiana University."
Although she will be departing, her teammates will remember her for helping blend together many different people.
"Lindsey is one of the few American players on our team," Sopel said. "As a senior captain, she handled the diversity and the differences of cultures well, and she brought the team together."
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