Athlete Diary: Claire Czerwonka

I started playing tennis when I was five years old, so it has always been such a big part of my life. Something that I never would have imagined would be me playing college tennis during a pandemic. With changes happening all over the world, it is safe to say that my team was also affected by COVID-19. 

Although our season was cut short and a lot of different protocols were put into place last year, I still wouldn’t change it for the world. While it was difficult and at times frustrating, I am so glad that we were able to have a spring 2021 season and were able to compete.

That being said, I was granted another year of eligibility due to COVID-19, and as a fifth year I am able to go back to school and am currently pursuing my Doctor of Nurse Practitioner (DNP) degree. 

Tennis has always been such a big part of my life and has taught me a lot of life lessons. One of these, and one of the most important I believe, is time management. Between morning workouts, private lessons, practice and traveling, I have learned to be very organized. Growing up practicing daily and constantly traveling, I learned about time management at a very young age. Honestly, I am glad that I am so busy because I feel like I get more done.

We are definitely looking forward to this upcoming season. Coming off of the most successful year in 14 years, having our whole starting lineup return and the opportunity to compete a full year fuels us. And we couldn’t be more excited. Each one of the team members has pushed themself over the summer, and in these opening days of practice, it is easy to tell we are even better than last year. 

Coach Modesto has been so supportive of us from day one and he is just excited as we are. I attribute a lot of the success that the team has recently had to him. He is not just a coach, but is a mentor, a friend and someone who pushes me and the rest of the team daily to be our best. It is so nice having someone who believes in you and is with you no matter what. That is also true for our assistant Coach Patrick. 

However, I do have to say that I am most looking forward to playing with my sister again this season. Not many people are able to say that they can play collegiate tennis with a family member. Not only do we have that, but we are also doubles partners. 

We really bring out the best of each other on and off the court, and I am so thankful to share this experience with my best friend. I am looking forward to breaking the record of the most doubles matches won this year and hope to continue to climb the ranks, starting the season with 52 career singles wins. 

We also have our eyes set on winning individual and team conferences this upcoming year. I believe I bring a lot of experience to the table, as well as the rest of our team and we can’t wait to start this season. Go Valpo!

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