Another freshman on the 2014 tennis team attracts the attention of coaches and players from the entire division, shedding light on the Lady Blazer tennis program for the second time in the last three years.
Sabrina Schmidt showed her strength throughout the entire season and her hard work paid off with the accomplishment of being named Gulf South Conference Freshman-of-the-year.
“I was surprised,” Schmidt said. “I didn’t expect that, but I was happy of course.”
Schmidt started playing tennis with her father, Armin, at the age of 10 while living in her hometown of Neunkirchen in Bayern, Germany.
“We kept playing every day because it was a lot of fun for me,” Schmidt said. “He taught me a lot.”
As soon as she hit the clay court, Schmidt began to play tennis on a regular basis, often playing with her three younger sisters; especially her sisters Serme and Samantha.
The three played together until Serme and Samantha turned 14 years old, as Sabrina’s passion for tennis gradually started getting more intense.
Her father quickly became her biggest supporter, encouraging her to push harder to accomplish her goals.
“He always goes to tournaments with me no matter what,” Schmidt said. “He coaches me and he plays with me.”
While tennis was becoming a major part in her life, Schmidt later admired the work of Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic. These players stand out to her because of their aggression and passion, along with their feminism.
As Schmidt continued to play in Germany, tennis agencies were in contact with VSU head coach John Hanson, encouraging him to bring her to Valdosta.
“From what I can tell she loves it here,” Hanson said. “She does great in the classroom, everyone on the team loves her, and she’s just a good girl.”
The freshman was not used to playing doubles when she first started, as most freshmen aren’t. But she quickly adapted.
The more she played, the more she got used to it and gradually made her way up to the No.1 doubles team for the Lady Blazers, playing alongside of Michelle Fischer. Together, the two ended the season with a record of 10-5.
“She has kind of an all-around game, still has to work on doubles, but her doubles has improved dramatically,” Hanson said.
Along with her doubles skills improving, Hanson noticed her quickness and power enhancing as the 2014 season came to an end.
“You can tell right away that she has had a lot of experience playing tennis and tournament tennis,” Hanson said.
With a huge transition from one country to another, Schmidt had many things to get used to. One of which was playing on hard courts and not clay courts.
“I just grew up with (clay courts),” Schmidt said. “It’s different, but I still like it.”
Schmidt definitely adjusted perfectly fine to the hard courts, as her statistics for the season show.
The freshman showed every opponent from this season that she is the dominant player, with a record of 15-2, losing only one match to Armstrong Atlantic’s Carolina Prats-Milan, and not finishing the other against West Florida’s Kat Dikosavljevic.
“Singles and doubles are both for the team; you play for yourself by you also play for the team,” Schmidt said.
Her accomplishment in winning almost all of her matches this season lifted her to the top 25 on the Division II rankings, ending the season at No.15 after the Gulf South Conference tournament.
Schmidt went from messing around with the tennis ball and racket with her dad to accomplishing a major goal for freshmen in D-II tennis.
“Sabrina has been a fantastic addition to the team this year,” Hanson said. “She has improved every day since the day she got here and she’s going to be a factor before it’s all over in division-II tennis.”
This story was written by Lia Armistead.