Nebraska Players' College Tennis Experiences
Matt Case | October 30, 2019
Many high school players from Nebraska have gone on to play college tennis, and more continue to reach this next level every year. No matter what level, from Division 1 through Club, many of these athletes are able to graduate college with enriched relationships, self-discipline, and life experiences due to their college tennis involvement.
College tennis ramps up the competitive nature of the sport, and just might be the next step for you! Here are a few stories of three native Nebraskans that went on to play tennis after their high school careers ended, and found the same satisfaction with their collegiate tennis experience.
Samantha Mannix played her high school tennis career at Elkhorn South High School and is currently playing at the University of Iowa. She is a four-time Nebraska State Champion as well as a four-time Nebraska Girls Player of the Year.ADVERTISEMENT
Her tennis abilities gave her the good fortune to attend the University of Iowa on a full-ride scholarship. This experience has allowed her to travel all across the midwest as well as places like California, Texas, Florida, and Las Vegas.
Mannix believes many of her fortunate opportunities have arisen from playing college tennis. She has encountered amazing people including her coaches and teammates.
“Playing at such an amazing university has provided me with excellent training, traveling, and playing against the most elite players in the country,” said Mannix.
She shares that two of the most important relationships that she’s gained from tennis are with her childhood coaches, Kevin Heim and Taylor Wain. Mannix believes that both of these influential people in her life have supported her along her tennis journey and would do anything to help her improve not only as a player, but also as a person.
Isaac Mertens played at Adams Central High School, where he was the state champion at No. 2 singles and runner up at No. 1 singles as well as being on the All-Academic Team all four years.
Mertens continued playing at Hastings College where he achieved All-Conference honors for three years along with the National NAIA Sportsmanship award. College tennis allowed him to travel to places such as Arizona, California, Iowa, South Dakota, and Colorado.
“Playing tennis in college gave me the opportunity to connect with individuals that allowed me to get my first job after college,” said Mertens. He believes that the relationship with his former college coach, Comron Yazdgerdi, has been one of the single biggest influences in his life.
While some players thrive under the duties that accompany playing on a varsity-level college tennis team, others still love the game but can’t commit the time of varsity collegiate sports. For many of the latter athletes, USTA Tennis on Campus club teams can provide a perfect balance.
This is the case for Ashley Tyler, as she currently captains the Club Tennis Team at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. She played tennis at Westside High School where she placed 2nd at No. 1 doubles in 2016.
Tennis on Campus has taken her to compete in places like Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and even to nationals in Orlando, Florida.
“I have gotten the opportunity to take on leadership roles, gain many friendships, and continue to keep active and better my tennis game,” said Tyler. “I have also been able to travel and see new places, try new foods, and play against players from across the country!”
Playing tennis in college even helped her gain a life-long friend in teammate Johnna Lowe, as their tennis connection led them to become roommates as freshmen as well as playing and traveling together only building their relationship that much more.
Stories about athletes like these three today continue to encourage the youth of tomorrow to keep picking up their rackets as young adults in college and to keep on growing the sport on their college campuses.