Ever since she was little, Nicole Donnelly has dreamed of coming to the United States and playing college tennis. This dream became a reality in April 2019 when she enrolled in Missouri Western.
Donnelly was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She first became interested in tennis while watching Wimbledon.
“All of a sudden I just told my parents that I want to play that and do that one day,” Donnelly said.
After that, her parents bought her a tennis racket and she’s been playing ever since. In South Africa, Donnelly tallied a 50-41 record in singles play.
Donnelly was excited about her decision to play for Missouri Western while they were recruiting her.
“It just looked like it would be great so I just decided, 'Why not? Let’s go,'” Donnelly said.
As a sophomore this year, she has increased her winning record from last year by tallying six victories in her singles competitions and adding five victories in her doubles competitions.
Last year in a game against Oklahoma Baptist, she showed how hard-working she is by playing in the very last match of that day. The game was barely visible because the lights were turned off. This didn’t stop Donnelly from showing how skilled she is.
Olaya Garrido-Rivas, Donnelly’s coach, was impressed with her performance in this match.
“She kept fighting and ended up getting the dub,” Garrido-Rivas said.
Ariella Curci, Donnelly’s teammate, noticed when Donnelly isn’t playing, she’s cheering on all of her teammates.
“She’s really positive and cheers for everyone and tries to help everyone,” Curci said.
This helps strengthen the bond throughout her whole team.
“The team is very close, we’re like a family,” Donnelly said.
Curci, who is from Milan, Italy, also believes that their team has a strong bond.
“Our whole team is like a big family, so even though we are all international, we are all together,” Curci said.
Donnelly was awestruck when COVID-19 caused the cancellation of her season. She was on a spring break trip with her team in Chicago when her coach texted that they had an urgent meeting with the Associate Athletic Director, Eric Kramer. He told them that their season couldn’t continue.
“It was really tough on us because we were doing so well,” Donnely said.
Even with the start of the upcoming season being questionable, the tennis team still works hard every day.
“We’re still very motivated and dedicated, but we really hope we’ll have a season,” Donnelly said.