Rutgers sophomore picks college tennis over volleyball
If it were not for certain appealing aspects of tennis, sophomore Farris Cunningham might have become a college athlete playing a different sport.
“If I were to play another sport, it would probably be volleyball only because I played all throughout middle and high school,” she said.
With volleyball, much like most sports, success is fundamentally predicated on the way the members gel together as a unit, which in turn leads to winning games, matches and tournaments.
On the contrary, sports such as tennis, golf and bowling are completely different.
Each presents challenges because they require a person to assume an austere level of mental discipline, and Cunningham enjoys the challenge of relying solely on herself.
“At a collegiate level, I could never imagine playing a sport like volleyball because I’m so used to the individual aspects of tennis,” she said. “To me, that’s what makes the sport exciting: how we come together as a team, but also as individuals.”
Cunningham was just seven years old when she first started learning tennis and becoming acclimated to the individual aspect of the game.
During the summer, Cunningham, whose favorite player is the now-retired Andy Roddick, attended a tennis camp once a week to develop her skills as a player.
“I decided to stick with it for so long because I really enjoy watching and playing the sport,” she said. “It’s been a huge part of my life for most of what I can remember of my childhood and growing up, and [it] has developed me into the person I am today.”
As head coach Ben Bucca notes, the Rutgers tennis team has had a history of snagging away some of the top high school tennis players from the state of Texas, including Cunningham and junior Mariam Zein.
“There was mutual interest between Farris and the program,” Bucca said. “So we had her try out, and we liked what we [the coaching staff] saw.”
Now in her second season with the Scarlet Knights, Cunningham has accepted new challenges and rigors of being a college athlete.
But one particular challenge she has faced is not being able to see her friends and family back home in the Lone Star State as often as she would like.
“I get homesick only because I only go home for about three weeks during the summer and during Christmas break, so I don’t get many opportunities to see my family and friends,” she said. “However, I really love Rutgers and the friends I’ve made here, so I don’t get homesick that often, though, because I enjoy being up here with my teammates and being in school.”
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