TAMPA, FL — Two days in Raleigh, N.C., was all Sophie Nelson needed.
The N.C. State sophomore tennis player had to travel to America from her home in Southampton, England only once to be confident in where she would call home for the next four years.
“I just immediately chose N.C. State. They made a huge impact on me,” said Nelson. “I had schools lined up all over the place. I went to my recruiting trip there first and I just loved the team atmosphere. I think it’s quite unique to other teams.”
The Wolfpack, as the team is known, offered Nelson the best of both worlds in athletics and academics and it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
“It’s like nothing we have in England. Sports is just so different here in America. We get to play like a professional would, but get a degree at the same time.
“It’s nice to keep my options open,” said Nelson, who expressed interest in remaining in America post graduation to pursue a career in sports journalism.
On a windy Wednesday at the South Florida University campus, however, Nelson’s mind was strictly on the matches in front of her, a win would match the school’s 8-0 record for the best start to a season since the program began.
Nelson and her doubles partner, Chloe Smith, battled to overcome SFU in their doubles match with a final score of 8-5, clinching the point for the team.
“Chloe and I have done that a few times now. It’s really exciting for us and builds our confidence for the tough matches,” Nelson said, sitting on the bleachers and occasionally getting distracted at the singles match in front of her.
Smith is a senior this year but adjusting to new partners isn’t something that worries Nelson, who emphasized the closeness of the women’s tennis team.
“We’ve been playing together since the start of this season and we haven’t lost a match yet, but I think because we’re such a tight-knit team anyone could really play with anyone,” said Nelson.
“We get on so well. We have mixed rounds of partnerships in practice so we get a good feel of playing with everyone.”
Although Nelson has adjusted well to playing tennis in America, there are still a few things that will take some getting used to.
“I’m always looking in the other direction when I’m crossing the road, probably a big safety hazard,” Nelson said with a smile.