DURHAM, N.C. -- GoDuke.com recently had an opportunity to sit down with top-ranked Duke women’s tennis team’s freshmen pair of Alyssa Smith and Chalena Scholl to learn more about their first year at Duke.
GoDuke.com: Can you reflect on your first year here at Duke?
Alyssa Smith: It has been a very good experience. There has been a lot of change but it has been good change and I like it a lot. Classes are tough and practices are tough but they are both pushing me to be better and see where my limits are. I really like it here so far.
Chalena Scholl: I really like it so far. It has been a great opportunity. All the experiences I have had here have been very rewarding. It was different than what I expected it to be, but overall it has been a good experience.
GoDuke.com: What has the transition been like, playing at the collegiate level?
AS: There is definitely a big difference. The girls here fight and scrap because they are playing for something bigger than themselves. I’m from southern California so moving across the country was another big change for me. I lived there my entire life, so this is the first time I branched out. I was looking for something new and different and I think I found it out here. I really like it.
CS: It’s a lot different because you are usually looking out for yourself, but in college it is about the team. Everything you do is for the team and not for yourself.
GoDuke.com: What has helped you make this transition?
AS: The team has helped a lot. They have been like a support group from the very beginning. I think it was nice to have that because many other college students don’t have that team aspect. The girls and the coaches have been great in making sure I’m doing well in everything and keeping an eye on me.
CS: I have always wanted to be on a team. I liked to think I’m not a very selfish person, so I try to put the team before myself. I think it just came naturally to me.
GoDuke.com: What have you noticed about the team atmosphere here at Duke?
AS: You can tell there is a bond between all the student athletes. We all try to support the other sports, especially within our team. We do a really good job of supporting each other and making sure everyone trusts each other. I think that it is important to have good team unity, especially going into NCAA’s.
CS: Everyone works incredibly hard and we have a great group of girls.
GoDuke.com: What has been your most memorable moment here at Duke so far?
AS: Winning [National Team Indoors]. It was a really big deal because we were down. It was emotional, tiring and exciting all wrapped in one.
CS: Winning [National Team Indoors] is something I will never forget. It was an amazing experience.
GoDuke.com: Which do you prefer playing, singles or doubles?
AS: I think doubles is a lot of fun because you are out there with a teammate. Doubles is quick paced and a good change. You don’t get to play a lot of doubles in juniors and when you do it’s only during the big tournaments. I really like playing it here because you get to work on different shots.
CS: I like both of them. They are different in their own way. Doubles is intense, but singles is also exciting.