Brit Finds Success An Ocean Away (Women’s Tennis)

Brian Regan

By Brian ReganThe Daily Northwestern

When Sam Murray came across the pond to be one of three new freshmen for the Wildcats, she decided to combine tennis and learning.

“College tennis in the U.K. is not very strong,” Murray said. “Most people go pro or go to the States so I had to make the choice if I wanted to go to school or just play tennis and I knew (NU) was a great school with a well-established program.”

Murray’s transition to American and college life was eased by the addition of a transfer, a walk-on and two other freshmen.

After settling into college and the new country, her next big goal is to figure out what to study. Until then she is playing top-notch tennis for the No. 10 Cats (9-4).

“I think tennis is playing a much bigger role in her life,” Claire Pollard – also a native of England – said. “When you grow up in England, there is a lot more balance between the athletics and academics.

“She’s quiet and fairly reserved, but she’s very funny and very dry-witted.”

Her wit has earned her a warm reception from her teammates as well.

Freshman Lauren Lui and Murray were doubles partners earlier in the season and have decided they like each other enough to room together next year.

“I love Sam,” Lui said. “She’s quiet, but once you get to know her she opens up. She’s really one of a kind.”

Murray has moved her way up the Cats’ ranks after an injury to senior Alexis Prousis forced someone to step up for the team.

Murray played well enough to get Pollard’s attention and is now playing No. 2 singles and ranked No. 23 in the country for her work.

Murray has a 23-7 singles record this season.

Even though she’s winning matches, she hardly ever knows whom she is playing or who is favored to win, being an outsider to the American tennis rivalries.

“I think it is good for her because she has no idea if the girl is (No.) 2 in the country or was a great prospect,” Pollard said. “She just goes out and plays.”

But the Cats’ upcoming opponents, Illinois and Purdue, will try to figure out Murray and end the Cats’ 37-match winning streak against the Big Ten this weekend.

After spending almost two months on the road, Pollard said she is just happy her team is playing in Evanston again.

“The most important thing I’m looking forward to is being at home,” she said. “We’ve been on the road for a while and it’ll be nice to get back into Big Ten play and hopefully take care of business this weekend.”

Reach Brian Regan at [email protected]