BY MIKE MEANEY
For an Island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland Labrador has delivered many strong tennis players to the NCAA system over the years. Such schools as the University of South Florida, William and Mary, Washington, Maryland, Tennessee and I can keep writing until the cows come home. We are not strong economically, infrastructure wise, and we keep our indoor bubble up year-round as our weather is also not favourable to promote the sport of tennis, yet we succeed it seems despite all the obstacles.
This all brings me to two players heading off to play and study at NCAA schools. Aiden Drover-Mattinen of Portugal Cove, NL has signed at Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. Aiden is a former national junior doubles champion, has placed in the top 10 of nationals on a few occasions, and has travelled all around the world to play tennis, even donning the Canadian uniform representing his country.
“Travelling to Austria at age 13 to compete as a member of team Canada is a moment that jumps out in my mind, but all of my tennis experiences have been incredibly valuable for different reasons,” explained the thoughtful Drover-Mattinen.
There is always some apprehension involved for a student athlete leaving home for the first time, but the skills developed in our sport help in preparing for such a transition.
“I am really excited about living away from home for the first time. I like having my own space and developing my own daily routines. Obviously I do feel some stress about the additional responsibility that comes with living alone, but generally I feel more settled about the whole situation than I expected.”
Aiden is the epitome of the term “hard worker,” and will no doubt be a strong player for his school, but will also be a team player.
“My main goal in NCAA tennis this year is to help my team win our conference title by giving my best in competition and supporting my teammates in any way possible,” said Drover-Mattinen.
Jasmine Rahman accepted an academic scholarship to Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and her skills on the tennis courts will give her an edge as she tries out for the team in the Patriot division. Rahman has won every division in the Atlantic Championships in her junior career, played in many junior nationals along with Canada Games. She knows the value of hard work, and what it takes to play at a high level. Holy Cross has found a diamond in the rough sorta speak.
“I came to Holy Cross on a full academic scholarship. After arriving at Holy Cross, the roster for the women’s tennis team was already set for this academic year. My immediate goal is to get involved with club tennis hopefully train with the Holy Cross team for this year. My long-term goal is to make the NCAA Division I tennis team further develop my tennis skills and pursue my passion,” stated Rahman.
You always hear successful people in life who state that commitment and discipline are assets they develop from playing sport. Well Rahman’s words are similar.
“Tennis has been such a massive part of my life. It has challenged me to have personal growth, discipline, and commitment. It has given me opportunities to travel all across Canada, and make lifelong friendships. It is truly an amazing sport and has played a huge role in getting me to where I am today,” described Rahman.
It has been a number of years since players from this province have gone south to play and train in the NCAA ranks. Here’s to hoping others are inspired from Newfoundland Labrador and want to follow in these two fine ambassadors for the sport of tennis.
By Mike Meaney, Tennis Director, Newfoundland & Labrador Tennis Association
Tennis NL is a Contributing Partner of ONcourt