Photo taken by CAU Athletics.
The sports world was captivated during the semifinals of the 2021 Australian Open when rising star Naomi Osaka battled the accomplished veteran Serena Williams on Feb. 17.
The women of CAU tennis inspire to be like Osaka and Williams professionally, while creating their own path.
Team captain of CAU women’s tennis is senior Nicola Ramdyhan, who was inspired to play by her mom; Shelly Daly-Ramdyhan.
“I naturally fell in love with it,” Ramdyhan said.
She would attend tennis matches and practices with her mom in Guyana and grew to love the sport. Further, she looks up to both Osaka and Williams, but Ramdyhan admires and gains motivation from Williams’ sister, Venus Williams, the most.
“Despite [Williams’] underlying condition, she is still able to put her best foot forward and play her best,” she said.
Ramdyhan was selected to be team captain due to her willingness to be open to everyone.
“We’re like sisters,” said Ramdyhan, describing her relationship with her teammates.
She listens to the team’s concerns and aims to make the spring season comfortable and enjoyable for everyone, especially new freshmen.
Head coach of CAU tennis, Tara Turner, was introduced to tennis at a young age as well. After being frustrated with her teammates’ performance when she played softball, her dad decided to put her in a sport where if a mistake happens, it would be fault.
“If you win, you win. If you lose, you lose,” her dad said.
“I’ve been playing ever since,” she said.
Turner was inspired to coach from the actions of her former coach. She played at CAU from 2005-2009 and was team captain from 2006-2009. CAU won the SIAC tennis title her sophomore year, but her coach W. Oliver McClendon fell ill. However, despite being on dialysis, McClendon continued to come out, support and coach his players.
“It left an imprint on my heart,” she said.
Through her coach’s determination, she became the head coach of CAU tennis in 2019 and has not looked back. In her first season as coach, CAU tennis won the 2019 SIAC Women's Tennis Championship, and she believes her program would have won last season and this season if it was not for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t plan on being here and just us playing every year and competing,” she said. “I’m here to win.”
When she retires from coaching, she wants to have a full scholarship for students, and she wants to be the winningest conference title tennis coach in SIAC.
Off the court, Turner wants to develop and nurture young ladies who are ready for what life throws at them when they leave CAU.
CAU tennis has returned and is competing in exhibition matches throughout the spring semester.
This story has been originally published in Clark Atlanta University's student newspaper - the Panther. For inquiries, email James McJunkins: firstname.lastname@example.org