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Taube Tennis Stadium. Photo Credit: Sheldon Breiner. Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives

My Student Athlete Story: Melissa Lord

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Taube Tennis Stadium. Photo Credit: Sheldon Breiner. Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives


Moving my luggage into my new dorm room and saying my final good-byes to my Dad at the Escondido Road roundabout, I perfectly fit the stereotype as that new and excited freshman. After a summer of classes I took on campus, I was eager to return and finally meet the rest of my classmates. I already felt comfortable, knowing my way around most of the campus, and being familiar with the friends over the summer and my tennis team. Being from Connecticut, I was immune to the long distance and time away from home, for traveling for tennis tournaments took up a large portion of my high school experience. As fall quarter continued on, I had to quickly get accustomed to balancing my schoolwork, sports practices, and social life. I soon realized that the transition from a small school in Connecticut to a large school on the opposite side of the country was not going to be easy. I was continuously exhausted from my filled schedule of classes, workouts, and practice each day. Although I always put a smile on my face, I was not completely fulfilled with the results I receiving on the tennis court. I was losing matches to opponents who I shouldn’t be losing to. During our first road trip to Tennessee, our team suffered two very significant losses, quickly bringing our record to 1-2. The phrases, “you’re only a freshman”, and “it’s only the beginning” did not mean much to me at the time. With my teammates and coaches having complete confidence in my game, I only wanted to prove them right. After a shaky winter season, our spring season took a quick turn of events when our team defeated the first and second ranked teams in the nation, University of California and Florida. Although I did not get to contribute to those wins with individual match success, I was relieved that our season this year finally had an optimistic outlook.

As I gained more match experience, I began to realize that success does not come easily. Competing at the collegiate level, I had to make changes to my tennis game through gaining trust in my coaches and their advice. I realized that every day I stepped on the practice court was another opportunity to improve. With the NCAA championship right around the corner, I continued to take advantage of the limited time I had in practice while staying organized in my schoolwork. Through individual dinners with my upperclassmen, I became vulnerable and admitted to the difficulties I was having on and off the court. Finally, traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the round of 16 and a championship on the line, I knew that a strong end to this season would make the sacrifice all worthwhile.

Now in the middle of summer, I look back and realize that winning a National Championship with my team did not define my freshman year. Instead, the journey and unforgettable memories with my friends and teammates are what I will remember. I learned that it is impossible to have success without a strong support group and perseverance. On the court, I was fighting for something much bigger than myself. Instead, I was fighting for everybody who helped me get to where I am today. My freshman year experience at Stanford is one I will never forget, as I built everlasting friendships and learned more about myself than I ever have before. I learned that admitting your struggles and openly speaking about them is the first step to solving them. I had to learn to fully trust and open up to those who are there for help.  Despite the growth I had in my studies and tennis game, I know I have much more to learn and cannot wait to experience the next three years at a place I now call home.

Melissa Lord

Public Policy, Class of 2019

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