Q and A With Women's Tennis Seniors

Q and A With Women's Tennis Seniors

By Caroline Ballard
Sports Information Intern 

What made you choose WashU? 
Lily Schroeder: I am from Chicago and never thought I would end up staying in the Midwest. I was determined to go to school on the East coast like my brothers even though I had two cousins at WashU. I wanted to create my own path for college. After several visits, the pieces fell into place for WashU. It was important that I find a demanding academic environment where I could pursue diverse interests such as business and Chinese as well as seek out a spot on a serious varsity tennis team. I was impressed by the collaborative atmosphere I witnessed in the classes I sat in on. Of course, Coach Kelly was a big part of the decision as well.  Her positive outlook and team focus came across loud and clear and made me want to play for her. I felt as if I would fit in.

Kate Lee: I chose WashU because I fell in love with the people and campus when I first visited as a junior in high school. Everyone was so kind, and the students seemed so genuinely happy to be there. I also knew that I wanted to do premed and play collegiate tennis. The strong premed program in addition to Coach Kelly's caring attitude toward her players is what sealed the deal for me.

Grace Deering: Few other schools I considered offered such great opportunities for an incredibly well-rounded educational experience ranging from academics to athletics and extracurriculars.  To me, WashU seemed like a place where I could challenge myself, grow a lot over a few years, and make lifelong friendships.

How do you balance your schedule between school and Tennis? 
LS: I am a very structured person which helps me balance school and tennis. I keep a detailed calendar which I depend on. I am an early riser which helps get school work or workouts done early in the day, leaving time for other interests later.

KL: Balancing academics with tennis requires a lot of self-discipline and time efficiency. I find myself being the most time efficient during season. I have limited time to do work, so I have to make every minute count.

GD: I just keep it simple by planning ahead and keeping close track of all of my commitments. I've found that my time management is best when we are in season, and tennis forces me to stay organized and on top of things. 

What have you learned from playing under head coach Kelly Stahlhuth? 
LS: Playing under Coach Kelly has been a privilege. She puts a big emphasis on the importance of the team, which in tennis can often be forgotten, especially having come from playing junior tournaments. No matter the position on the team, everyone truly has an equal contribution. Coach Kelly has also underscored the significance of effective leadership for me. As the team progresses from freshman to senior year along with the student leadership, team dynamics and culture change as well. Each team player must also adjust accordingly. Our assistant coach Erin Swaller and the one and only Bruce Stahlhuth, have also been great mentors and people we depend on, on and off the court. 

KL: I've really learned what it means to be a team player from Coach Kelly. Tennis is an individual sport, so it took some time my freshman year to get used to working for the team's goals rather than striving to attain my own. I've found that it's so much more meaningful and rewarding to achieve something together with a group of girls who are working alongside you than to attain something individually.

GD: Coach Kelly has showed me the importance of leading by example. She is one of the humblest, kind-hearted people I have ever known, and her support, sacrifice, and efforts to get the team as far as possible every season have constantly inspired me. Over the past four years, it's become clear that Coach Kelly is one of the most respected coaches in college tennis, not to mention the amazing legacy she leads in the St. Louis tennis community, and I feel so lucky to have played for her.  Coach Kelly's husband, Bruce, and Coach Erin have also been so supportive and instrumental in our team's successes, and I am so grateful for their mentorship over the years. 

What is your favorite Tennis memory at WashU?
LS: It's tough to pick one memory because we always manage to have a great time and entertain each other no matter where we are - from tournaments in more remote areas of Missouri or at Elite 8 in Kalamazoo or Chattanooga. If I have to choose one memory from this year, among the best is by far beating Bowdoin to finish up our spring break trip. At the start of each season, "Beat Bowdoin" is always on our list of goals. Finally, in my senior year, I can check it off the list.  We were able to come together after an exhausting week of matches for our toughest one yet. It was amazing to see everyone come together for the big win and I am looking forward to what's in store for the rest of the season.

KL: My favorite memory is the trip we took to San Antonio last year. Not only did we have some good matches that prepared us well for the rest of the season, it was so much fun to walk around the river walk and eat good Tex-mex with the team. It was also great because both Bruce and Erin were able to come and coach us. They always add so much to our trips!

GD: I'd have to say it's a huge sum of a ton of little moments that have made WashU tennis so great. Long bus rides passed by fun games, stretched out rain delays befriending other teams, and memorable team dinners have made potential drudgeries a blast. A favorite on-the-court memory would be our victory over Sewanee to make the Elite Eight in 2016.  We had been upset by them the year before, so to work for an entire year to eventually beat them at home and prolong our season with our seniors was one of the most rewarding experiences during my time on the team. And any win over Carnegie or Chicago is equally as fun!

What are your plans upon graduating from WashU? 
LS: Leaving WashU, of course, is bittersweet. I have made great friends and many, many amazing memories. I do look forward though to moving back to Chicago where I will work for Morningstar in investment research.

KL: I'll be deferring medical school for a year in order to go to South Korea as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. I will be teaching Korean students English from July 8, 2018- July 16, 2019. 

GD: I will be working in Chicago for Navigant Consulting in their healthcare consulting practice.  In the long term, I hope to earn a Master of Public Health and work in domestic and global health policy.