TU's Samantha Vickers prepares for Saturday's match against No. 16 Notre Dame at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa.
Over the past calendar year, we've seen some exceptional performances from TU
student athletes. Men's distance runner Chris O'Hare won the 1-mile at
the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships. And he set a new NCAA record in the
indoor 1-mile at the Millrose Games in February of this year.
TU appears to have another exceptional student-athlete with All-American potential: Samantha Vickers. She's a junior on the TU women's tennis team and currently ranked #22 nationally by the ITA.
One thing O'Hare and Vickers have in common; they're both from the United Kingdom.
"[I'm from] Lincolnshire. It's east coast, midlands area," Vickers explains through her distinct English accent before her team's match Saturday against No. 16 Notre Dame.
Google maps couldn't determine driving directions from Lincolnshire to
Tulsa. But it's a few thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean. So why
make the trip from eastern U. K. to the Midwest of the United States for
college and tennis?
"I was excited to try something new, and like, meet new people," said Vickers. "And I was hoping the tennis would be really good here and it is."
it wasn't like Vickers was an overnight success playing NCAA Division 1
collegiate tennis in the U.S. According to head coach Dean Orford, each
season, Samantha has shown substantial improvement; making her the
nationally ranked college player she is today.
"[Samantha] has to
be one of the best players that's ever played here before," Orford said
of his star junior. "We've had All-Americans, don't get me wrong. But
she's right up there. We'll see this year when she changes that status."
understandable someone like Vickers to have aspirations of possibly
winning an NCAA individual title given her top 25 national rank. But
according to Vickers, she along with the rest of the Golden Hurricane
still have a "team-first" mentality. And Samantha believes this team can
reach the NCAA Championships.
"We get to the second round, well, we have the last two years I've been here," said Vickers.
season] we have four new girls. So that's kind of a surprise for the
other teams. They're not going to know what's coming, hopefully. But
they won't have a clue what we're about. And we'll be able to play some
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