By Olivia Nicoletti
Moving to Montana from Canada is hard enough. Leaving two years later and relocating to New Jersey only makes it more difficult. For senior tennis player Sarah Cheverie, transferring to Rider was the first step of improving her tennis career, social life and academic career.
“Moving from such a big school like Montana State University that had 16,000 to 17,000 people to, comparatively, a very small school was motivational,” Cheverie said. “I feel at Rider professors care more and I know more people around campus. I like walking around and everyone waves and is friendly, versus a big school, you really don’t know 90% of the people there.”
Cheverie built a connection with junior marketing major Angelica Garcia, a fellow teammate. Moving from a different school, her new team was a built-in family and it felt as though they accepted her right off the bat. As would anyone in her position, she was nervous about her transition, but Garcia was able to make it a lot smoother.
“Sarah has had an amazing influence on my experience at Rider. Since I first met her she’s always wanted to get involved and make the most of her time at Rider. She’s joined academic clubs, a sorority and she’s been an amazing friend, on the court and off. Sarah has always been there for me, whether it be as my teammate, classmate or friend,” Garcia said. “She’s always encouraging me to be the best I can be and she always wants the best for everyone around her. She’s really like a big sister to be, she always gives the best advice, and I know she’ll be there for me even after she graduates from Rider. Sarah is a born leader and I’m so glad she’s a part of my life and I get to see her thrive in so many aspects at Rider University.”
During Cheverie’s senior year of high school she sent her highlight tapes to Head Coach Douglas Potkay, but they were not able to recruit her because of the limited athletic scholarships. However, during her sophomore year at Montana State University, Cheverie reached back out and this time Rider was able to offer her a spot on the team.
“What impressed me the most about Sarah is her desire to be a better tennis player. She trains hard and is a tough competitor,” Potkay said. “Sarah definitely gives our lineup a boost in singles and doubles. She is a good listener and takes input very well.”
“It did not take her long to feel a part of the team,” Potkay said. “She has an outgoing personality and she is a team oriented player.”
After getting the change of scenery she needed, Cheverie discovered the motivation she longed for while playing for Potkay.
“My coach really loves tennis and that shows through his coaching standpoint,” Cheverie said. “He’s been playing tennis for a large part of his life. He has a lot of knowledge about the game, about different strategies and tips and tricks that can help us in training or during matches.”
The individual component that tennis offers is what Cheverie likes best. She is able to work for an ultimate win for the team but only has to focus on her own actions. Even if they are not playing all together, the team’s support and love for each other is what keeps her motivated to do her best. She has also expressed her love for the ability to connect with teammates on the court when competing in doubles tournaments.
“I feel like we work together; when you have a really good doubles pairing you kind of already know what your partner is going to do before they do it,” Cheverie said. “If you’ve been playing together for a while you start to learn each other’s game strategy, such as, what shot is their favorite and what they’re going to do in certain situations.”
Each player provides leadership in different ways. Everyone on the team has different strengths and weaknesses, if one teammate is struggling there are others willing to help.
“I try to always be really positive with my teammates and support them if they’re having a tough day,” Cheverie said. “I try to motivate them or try to help them out if they’re struggling with a skill and I do my best to then figure out what is wrong and they will ultimately do the same for me.”
In regards to tennis, Cheverie will always be changing and improving as she learns more about herself and how she plays the game. So far, at Rider, she has been able to drastically improve her athletic abilities.
“It’s a really long way away from home for me; it’s close to a 36 hour drive. Even though it was my third year of school and I’d already been away from home for two years, it was a step up and just having to be thrown into a situation where I didn’t know anyone and had to meet new people and change how my life was.”
“I’m proud of myself for going to school in the United States and accomplishing getting into school and being on a team made me proud of all the work I put in to get there. But the work doesn’t stop there, once you’re on the team you’re still training every day and you’re still working to become better,” Cheverie said. “I am most proud that I got so involved in everything at Rider, because I feel I just always want to meet as many people as I can and build as many relationships as I can.”