Daily Egyptian

Freshman tennis player shows potential

By Brent Meske

The women’s tennis team has a freshman poised to become one of the team’s top players by the end of the year.

Freshman Athena Chrysanthou is from London, and had a successful tennis career before coming to SIU this semester. She was ranked No. 11 in the UK under-16 division, ranked in the top 30 in UK under-18 division and was a member of the National Premier league under-14 winning team.

Chrysanthou said the difference between playing in England and America comes down to the experience level. She needs to transition her game from an individual effort to a team effort.

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“I’ve had to change my mindset and adjust myself to being more of a team player,” she said. “In England I was more individual, but now it’s really important that I learn how to be part of a team game. I’ll keep developing that through my years here.”

Coach Audra Anderson said it is impressive for a freshman to come in as a No. 3 player and she has potential to become a top player.

“Natasha Tomishima is our current No. 1 player, and she started as the No. 4 player in her freshman year,” she said. “I told [Chrysanthou] she has the weapons to eventually play the No. 1 spot for us, whether that is this year, next year, or as a junior or senior.”

Anderson said Chrysanthou is better than her rankings suggest.

“When we recruited her, we knew she had some good weapons. Since then she has really improved through practices,” she said.

Anderson said Chrysanthou’s game consists of a strong serve and a dominant forehand. She said with her current attributes, better footwork would allow her to become an even better player.

Chrysanthou agreed with Anderson.

“I have confidence in my serve and forehand and I have a consistent backhand,” she said. “I also need to improve on my longer points and attack them with consistency; that will help my game. We will be playing a lot more matches coming up, so I need to be ready for longer points and more matches.”

Anderson said she is helping Chrysanthou develop her doubles play by working on her volley and moving up in the court.

“I’m enjoying developing that right now,” she said. “I’ve had more success in singles right now, but I’m still learning how to play doubles.”

Anderson said it is normal for a freshman to do better in singles play.

Chrysanthou started the season strong with third place finishes at the Colorado Invitational and Saluki Fall Classic.

She said in the Colorado Invitational she was not aware of the tournament structure and had no expectations, but was happy with her finish. She said she had to adjust her game to a different environment.

“I was impressed with her comeback in Colorado,” Anderson said. “She was down a set and it looked like she wasn’t going to be able to come back, but she battled. She wasn’t able to use our plan going into the match but she adjusted and was able to hit balls effectively that she might not have had confidence in.”

Chrysanthou said the highlight of her season has been getting to know her team and learning from their experiences.

“This is such a great team and they give me such great support,” she said. “My achievements aren’t personal, they are team achievements as well. My team has been so helpful for me.”

Tomishima said she is focusing on helping freshmen like Chrysanthou.

“Our goal as seniors is to help them and make them more comfortable around the team and the campus,” she said.

SIU will compete at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma this week.

Brent Meske can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @brentmeskeDE

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