By: Gabe Taylor '12
Nikki Wolny always had it in her mind that one day she would be playing tennis at the college level. But it wasn't until a month into her time on Mission Campus before her dreams became reality.
She managed to secure a spot on the Santa Clara tennis team as a walk on.
"I was really excited, but I was also satisfied because I had worked so hard to get to that level," said Wolny.
After training with the Cal Poly team over the summer, Wolny's dedication to the sport paid off.
Ever since she was 10 years old, Wolny competed with a serious edge when the racket was in her hand. Although her attention heavily rested on tennis, she never shied away from taking on other sports. Throughout high school she played basketball – the sport her mother played at Bethune Cookman College.
But tennis outlasted basketball in terms of Wolny's priorities.
"I just tried to focus on it a bit more," said Wolny.
While at Mercersburg Academy, a boarding school located in Pennsylvania, Wolny made All League First Team for the Mid-Atlantic Prep League for three years.
Prior to attending Mercersburg Academy, Wolny resided with her family in Saudi Arabia. She grew up with three cultures intertwined – one of them being American culture. Having been raised with this diversity enabled Wolny to bypass the stages of culture shock when settling into a new country.
As soon as Wolny visited Santa Clara, she was sold on what it had to offer.
"The atmosphere was just really attractive," said Wolny. "No one had anything bad to say about it."
And these first impressions have held up.
"The team's just really nice; they welcomed me a lot, and I felt really comfortable," commented Wolny.
During extended breaks, Wolny returns to Saudi Arabia to visit her family. Soon, however, they won't be so far away. Her mother and father are preparing to move to San Luis Obispo.
The move will make it easier for them to see Wolny in action.
With the season having kicked off, Wolny is attempting to prepare mentally.
Her plan is to prove she deserves to play at the level she always wanted to reach. And now she has been given the chance.