By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
Courtney Collins is getting near the end of a outstanding college career.
The University of Memphis tennis player, a senior from Fulton, takes the court today as the Tigers play in the second round of the Conference USA Tournament in Houston.
Memphis, the No. 3 seed, plays No. 6 seed Central Florida at 2 p.m.
“The way the program has developed, it’s a night and day difference from when I was a freshman,” Collins said after Thursday’s practice session.
“I’ve had a chance to be part of a program that’s on the rise.”
The Tigers went 10-12 in Collins’ first season. Her team went 16-5 this season and is headed to the NCAA tournament.
Last year, Collins became the first Memphis women’s player to advance to the NCAA singles tournament. She arrived at college as no stranger to success, having won four consecutive state singles titles at Itawamba AHS.
And yet, she’s a different player today.
“I like to think I’m a little smarter as a player now,” Collins said. “I’ve learned so much about the game since I got here, and I’ve learned to appreciate that we have the opportunity to play the game.”
Her perspective on tennis was broadened even more in February, when she played in the National Indoors in Memphis. Invited into the field as a wild card, she lost 6-3, 6-1 to eventual semifinalist Kristina Mladenovic, ranked 48th in the world.
“That experience made me realize that I wanted to play more after college,” she said.
Collins picked up her bachelor’s degree in August – having posted a 3.84 GPA in interdisciplinary studies – and has a 3.94 GPA as she pursues a master’s in exercise and sports science.
For a third year in a row, she’s been named to the C-USA All-Academic Team.
“In high school, I didn’t have to study a whole lot,” she said. “As the demands on my time in college got more complex, I learned how to budget my time.
“Now, as a graduate student, I’m having to adapt to a lot more reading and writing.”