TAMPA — North Carolina State co-captain Chloe Smith has been taking leadership lessons since she was six.
Growing up with two tennis-playing sisters, Smith has become a natural at leading by example, in both preparation and competition.
As a senior on the women’s tennis team, the Wolfpack, Smith understands her responsibilities as a captain extend far beyond the field of play and willingly accepts her duties with open arms.
“I try and be a role model, lead by example and get the team inspired every day to go out and practice or play a match,” said Smith after winning a three-set match on a chilly Wednesday afternoon at the University of Southern Florida.
The Smith family is well aware of Chloe’s abilities and aren’t surprised in the least.
“They were sounding boards, especially for Chloe whose older sister was more of a teacher of the game, so every stroke she had to play against. It was good for them.” Explained Chloe’s father Christopher.
“Chloe was more into power and her sister was more into finesse, she had to play against that, it improved her game a lot.”
It is no secret that Chloe’s game gains momentum and improves as the match progresses.
“She’s a slow starter. It’s the way she is but she fights for every point and she doesn’t like to lose, she picks it up as the match progresses,” said Smith’s personal coach and step-father Jason Thomas, between laughs.
Chloe admits that her performance early in matches isn’t her biggest strength.
“I sometimes have a slow start, but I like to fight for every point and it ends up coming back to help me”
This persistence and late match focus is another leadership quality Smith seems to come by easily.
She is always able to pull the close ones out, she absolutely never gives in until the very end, she just works so hard and makes sure she does the best she can,” said Smith’s 78 year-old cancer surviving Grandmother Betty Lou.
“She encourages everybody to be their best and she is a team player, its easy for her, she is a very positive person”
Despite her positive outlook and leadership characteristics, even Smith admits she can lose her temper every now and then.
“I take it out on the refs sometimes, I try and reset after and I try and discipline myself if I can.”
Sports can make the best of people emotional but it takes a special person to reign it in and control themselves. Smith is truly a fantastic talent and a pleasure to watch, and is clearly proficient at re-focusing after controversial calls.
“I just take it one point at a time and don’t look too far ahead or think about what just happened.”
Smith closed out her match day at the University of Southern Florida with an 8-5 doubles win with sophomore partner Sophie Nelson and a three set win in her singles matchup (3-6, 6-4, 6-4).
North Carolina State went on to win the day and improve their current undefeated season to 8-0.