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Tennis Seniors Are Ready For Life

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
          Release: 04/05/2013
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Senior Chloe McSwain prepares to serve on Friday at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center. She played her final home match for A&T. Photo by Kevin L. Dorsey
Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
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GREENSBORO – There are four main things the four North Carolina A&T women’s tennis seniors have learned during their careers. Nianna Henry, Chloe McSwain, Kendra Esparza-Harris and April Burrage made their final appearances as Aggies tennis players at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center on Friday. Longwood defeated the Aggies 7-0, making the way clearer for the foursome to achieve some impressive and lofty goals.  

While being interviewed separately, they repeated the same lessons learned – discipline, time management, perseverance and people skills. They all said collegiate athletics is going to be a great springboard into the “real world” after they obtain their undergraduate degrees.

“The legacy these four young ladies will leave this program with is their outstanding academics,” said A&T head coach James Dunwoody. “They were all solid student-athletes. I fully expect these ladies to be successful. If they go out and mind their own business, I expect to hear five, six, seven years down the line that they are doing well.”

They indeed have some impressive endeavors ahead. Henry is a journalism and mass communications major. She is weighing an internship with either CNN or ESPN before graduating in December. Henry wants to be a broadcaster and hone her skills in front of the camera.

“I grew up, some people would say, spoiled,” said Henry, whose sister Nina played at A&T her freshman season. “But after being here four years, I now know I can fend for myself. I know how to manage myself and manage my time instead of leaning on my parents so much.”

Her doubles partner on Friday, McSwain, took the lesson of persevering through difficult times. McSwain is a political science and Spanish major who studied both at the University of Puerto Rico this past summer. She had a choice of staying in Puerto Rico through the fall semester or returning for her senior season on the tennis team. McSwain’s parents instilled in her the quality of seeing things through, she said.

But even her decision to return to A&T was met with some resistance. While waiting at a stop light in Greensboro in August, a pickup truck ran into the back of her Nissan Sentra, crushing the car and inflicting back pain on McSwain. She was injured throughout the Aggies preseason, but was still able to return for her senior season.

“I’ve learned to never give up,” she said. “No matter how many obstacles you face, no matter how much you want to quit, just keep pushing forward and you’ll come out on top.”

McSwain was recently accepted at the University of Miami for graduate school. She will study international administration in hopes of one day becoming an immigration officer or lawyer.

Esparza-Harris also just received an acceptance letter. Her letter came from the University of Illinois. Esparza-Harris, who will graduate from A&T in three years with a degree in animal science, will study reproductive physiology at Illinois. In order to graduate in May, she decided not to compete this season. Instead, Dunwoody allowed her to be a volunteer assistant.

“I really thank coach for what he did,” said Esparza-Harris. “He didn’t want to lose me as a player or as a person, so he supported my decision not to play but to stay close to the team.”

Being an assistant and a player taught Esparza-Harris people skills. “Tennis is an individual sport, so you really have to rely on your instincts and learn how to maneuver no matter the situation. But at the same time, you also have to learn how to deal with different personalities, whether it’s your teammates, your coach or your opponent.”

Among all of the academic excellence in Dunwoody’s senior class, Burrage stands out with her 4.0 grade point average in marketing. This is just her second season on the tennis team after becoming a walk-on as a junior. Burrage was a Chicago city tennis champion as a junior in high school, but when she tore her left shoulder labrum as a senior in high school, she decided not to play her first two years in college.

She attended A&T on an academic scholarship and will graduate in May. She will then work for an insurance brokerage firm in Chicago, where she will negotiate commercial insurance contracts. Strong academics and tennis has taught Burrage her own lessons.

“Tennis is about self-discipline and staying committed,” Burrage said. “Tennis can conflict with your social life and academics, but once you join a team you have to put your best foot forward and make sacrifices in other areas because you’re on the team.”

Dunwoody hopes his current players will carry on the academic legacy his four seniors are leaving behind. He believes if he can add three advanced players to the nucleus he has returning, the 7-0 losses he has experienced this season will be a thing of the past.

“The backside of our lineup – four, five, six – is solid,” Dunwoody said. “We just don’t have the top tier players on the front.”

Longwood 7, North Carolina A&T 0

Singles competition

1. ALLGURIN, Malin (LW-W) def. STALLING,Kimberly (NCAT) 6-1, 6-2

2. PINYOL, Marta (LW-W) def. SCOTT,Jayla (NCAT) 6-2, 6-3

3. SHULMAN, Allison (LW-W) def. AUSTIN,Victorea (NCAT) 6-1, 6-1

4. MOOMAU, Sarah (LW-W) def. REID,Takeyrah (NCAT), by default

5. HILL, Hannah (LW-W) def. BURRAGE,April (NCAT) 6-1, 6-0

6. PARKER, Nicole (LW-W) def. MCSWAIN,Chloe (NCAT) 6-0, 6-0

Doubles competition

1. PINYOL, Marta/SHULMAN, Allison (LW-W) def. STALLING,Kimberly/AUSTIN,Victorea (NCAT) 8-3

2. ALLGURIN, Malin/MOOMAU, Sarah (LW-W) def. SCOTT,Jayla/BURRAGE,April (NCAT) 8-2

3. HILL, Hannah/PARKER, Nicole (LW-W) def. HENRY,Nianna/MCSWAIN,Chloe (NCAT) 8-4

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