As a child, freshman Anais Nussaume didn’t play tennis willingly.
“When I was small, I used to lock my racquet in the bathroom so I did not have to play,” Nussaume said.
Fast forward to today. This past recruiting season, the women’s tennis team added Nussaume, a Thailand native, to its roster. Indonesian powerhouse Dina Karina will also play for Temple beginning this month.
“They both have the capability to be first flight,” coach Steve Mauro said. “We just have to see how the fall season goes, but they both have the potential to be there.”
The talented freshmen possess a wealth of experience on the tennis court that stretches from regional to international competition. With the fall season quickly approaching, the women are eager to help the team have a successful first year in the American Athletic Conference .
“I just want to win,” Nussaume said.
Karina, who was ranked second in Indonesia according to Mauro, also played on the international circuit at numerous tournaments and championship matches, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations school games, Indonesia International Junior Championship and the Thamrin Cup International Junior Championship, where she reached the finals but was defeated. Nevertheless, she earned a world ranking of 295 by the International Tennis Federation.
With such an outstanding resume, Karina had many options on where to spend her collegiate career, but she said it was the familiarity of home that compelled her to choose Temple.
“The assistant coach here is Indonesian, so I have someone from my home country,” Karina said.
The coach Karina is referring to is Frederika Girsang, who was nationally ranked No. 4 in Indonesia and has been with the team since 2009.
With the insight of Girsang, Mauro knew it would be valuable to have Karina on the team.
“I know she will be a very strong, solid college player,” Mauro said.
There are many areas in her game Karina would like to improve on, but one particular area stands out.
“When I am leading the set 4-1, I like to choke,” said Karina. “I need to have more self-control, so that is what I want to work on this season.”
Nussaume has also made extraordinary strides on the tennis court. As a junior player, Nussaume represented Thailand in many international tournaments, such as the Hong Kong ITF Junior Tournament, Kenya International Junior Championship and the ITF East African 18 & Under Junior Circuit, where she reached the quarterfinals. She was ranked as high as No. 427 in the world.
Now that Nussaume is on a college team, she has very high expectations for herself.
“I am to be No. 1,” said Nussaume.
“[Nussaume] trained in France at a very high level academy,” Mauro said. “I believe she will be a very strong player as well. She has a good work ethic and should excel in school.”
When Nussaume was considering where she would go to college for the next four years, a city was never an option.
“When you think of all the American dream colleges, you think of colleges near the beach, like in California,” Nussaume said. “But when I visited here, I liked it. The campus was not too big and not too small. It was convenient and close to Center City.”
After a long recruiting season on the men’s side, Vineet Naran, who is from Colonia, N.J., is the lone recruit on a very young men’s team.
“Vineet has been training in Florida for the past couple of years,” Mauro said. “I believe that with his passion for tennis, he will get better and better as the year goes on.”
Naran spent the last five years playing tournaments in the Northeast, including competition in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
“Last summer, I won a sectional, which was pretty big for me,” Naran said. “This summer, I played a Challenger, which is a pro tournament. I ended up losing in the first round, but it was a really good experience.”
Naran hopes to make a difference on the team this year in order to work his way up in the lineup.
“I don’t know the spot that I am playing yet, but a general goal is to win as many matches as I can to make the team better and improve on my fitness, so that when I play, I can last longer in a lot more matches,” Naran said.
Each player has their individual goals, but winning seems to be the common theme that is echoed on both teams.
“They have good work ethic, so hopefully that will be a positive impact on the team,” Mauro said.
The fall season gives the freshmen a new opportunity to showcase their talent, improve on their weakness and transition to a new team in preparation for a long season.
The men’s team begins its season this weekend at the Navy Invitational in Annapolis, Md. and the women’s team kicks off its fall schedule on Sept. 20 with the Cissie Leary Invite at the University of Pennsylvania.
Danielle Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Dan_Nels.