Sports

‘Great teammate’ caps tennis career

Rebecca Breland left her hometown of Las Vegas to embark on a four-year tennis career at Temple.

Rebecca Breland had her mind set on what she wanted in a college from the beginning.

The Las Vegas native wanted a college experience that was unlike what she experienced on a day-to-day basis in Nevada.

“I knew that I wanted to go far away from home,” Breland said. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come all the way to the East Coast, but I knew that I wanted to experience the four seasons because in Las Vegas, [the weather] is hot all of the time. I wanted to see how the cultures differed. The main reason I chose Temple was because I wanted a different experience.”

Coming from the West Coast, the only thing that Breland knew when she came to Temple was that she would be on the women’s tennis team that finished third in the Atlantic 10 tournament the following year. To her, there was a lot of added pressure to be able to perform at a high level right away.

“When I first got here I was nervous,” Breland said. “I was 17 and I always pressured myself. In my freshman year, I feel like I didn’t do as well as I could have. I trained really hard for my sophomore year and I became more comfortable on the court.”

During her four-year career at Temple, Breland amassed a 46-35 singles record and a 50-44 doubles record. Her 50 doubles wins rank seventh all-time in Temple women’s tennis history.

During her time at the university, Breland has been a strong doubles performer, being able to finish off the point like some others can’t.

“Her tennis strengths involve her ability to get to the net and volley,” coach Steve Mauro said. “There are not a lot of girls that are comfortable up at the net like Rebecca. What makes her a strong doubles player is her net play.”

Breland said it took her until her junior year to realize that Temple was the right choice for her. That moment came in a conference match last year against Connecticut, which the Owls won, 4-3.

“It was a tough match and all of the courts were so close,” Breland said of the Connecticut match. “I remember everyone cheering each other on and the team unity was great. After the match, [assistant coach Frederika Girsang] was crying and I then realized that I had made the right choice.”

According to her teammates and Mauro, Breland is known more for being a good person and teammate than a tennis player.

Junior Minami Okajima came onto the tennis team a year after Breland and she said that when she came to the first practice, Breland immediately made her feel like a part of the team.

“She is a very honest person,” Okajima said. “You can always approach her and it is very easy to talk to her when you have a problem. Because she is so approachable the freshmen that come into the program immediately feel comfortable. She is just a great person.”

Breland will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Temple in the spring. When she graduates, she will return home to Las Vegas to teach early childhood education for Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that strives to help underprivileged kids receive a better education.

While teaching, she will attend the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to attain her master’s degree in early childhood education.

“Rebecca is a great teammate,” Mauro said. “She has had a lot of teammates over the past four years and she has gotten along with all of her teammates. I know that she is well respected by her peers. She works hard and she helps push the team during matches. She is always mentioned in the highest regard. It has been a pleasure coaching her for four years.”

Dalton Balthaser can be reached at dalton.balthaser@temple.edu or on Twitter @DaltonBalthaser.

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