Wooldridge head­ing State­side

Kapi-Mana News - - YOUR HEALTH - CHELSEA MCLAUGH­LIN

‘‘t’s some­thing I love to do. It’s def­i­nitely my pas­sion and I love play­ing.’’

Ten­nis player Olivia Wooldridge is about to swap her Tawa-Lyn­d­hurst club colours for the blue and white of Catawba Col­lege in North Carolina. The 18-year-old has signed off on a schol­ar­ship to the school where, from Au­gust, she will bal­ance play­ing the game she loves with study­ing for four years.

Wooldridge has been play­ing since she was 10 and has played na­tional and in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments.

She sent videos of her­self play­ing to a short­list of schools at the be­gin­ning of 2015 and talks were on­go­ing un­til she signed off with Catawba this month.

‘‘Once you reach 18 there isn’t re­ally much in New Zealand ten­nis-wise, un­less you wanted to go pro­fes­sional, which I never re­ally wanted to do,’’ she said.

The schol­ar­ship meant she would be able to study and con­tinue to play, she said.

‘‘Most girls, if they didn’t go to Amer­ica, would drop out and fo­cus on their stud­ies, so it’s a way to keep play­ing and not give it up.

‘‘It’s some­thing I love to do. It’s def­i­nitely my pas­sion and I love play­ing, love meet­ing all the peo­ple I have, but [pro­fes­sional ten­nis] is just such a dif­fer­ent life­style.’’

She had had a lot of sup­port from her fam­ily and friends, she said.

‘‘My fam­ily is so ex­cited. My friends have been re­ally ex­cited as well, re­ally sup­port­ive the whole time, which is cool, be­cause I’ve def­i­nitely had doubts about it. They’ve def­i­nitely made it a lot eas­ier.’’

Wooldridge had to jug­gle work, train­ing and study for years, so is con­fi­dent she will be able to han­dle the work­load, which she said in­volved morn­ing gym train­ing and two-hour hit­ting ses­sions each day.

‘‘The coaches and ev­ery­one there are re­ally sup­port­ive and re­ally help you, so I think if you’re strug­gling and ask for help they will help you out.’’

Her goal was just to play good ten­nis and to per­form well in a team en­vi­ron­ment, she said.

‘‘I re­ally just want to play well for my school. That’s my main goal. I want to work re­ally hard and get in the start­ing lineup and im­press the coach. I’m re­ally ex­cited and I want to do well and work well with the team.’’

PHOTO: CHELSEA MCLAUGH­LIN

Olivia Wooldridge is about to take a schol­ar­ship to Catawba Col­lege in North Carolina.

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