Athletes transfer between schools every year. Whether they seek a more challenging academic program, a better-suited coaching staff or a group of more collectively ambitious teammates, student- athletes often have several reasons that drive them to transfer.
After playing two years of varsity tennis at the University of California San Diego (6-0), Georgetown University junior Drew Spinosa decided to make the move to Georgetown (4-1).
“I first decided to transfer to Georgetown because I was looking for two things,” Spinosa said. “I was looking for higher academics, I was looking for a university that would push me, which this university is definitely doing, and I was looking for a tennis team where the girls are very committed and focused on working hard.”
Head Coach Gordie Ernst said that fitting in with the team could be a bigger challenge for transfers than for student-athletes recruited out of high school. He said that luck often plays a large part in whether or not transfers successfully integrate into the team.
“It’s a really, really fine line between someone who fits in and someone who doesn’t, and Drew has been perfect, you know, perfect,” Ernst said.
Spinosa finished her high school athletic career as a nationally ranked, five-star recruit. She boasted a 19-7 overall record in junior tennis, with 8-1 and 8-0 records against four-star and three-star recruits, respectively.
At UCSD, she dominated in all levels of play. Her freshman season she tried for the team lead in both singles and doubles wins, with 14 and 18, respectively. In her sophomore year, she again tied for the team lead in singles victories with 11. Spinosa also collected a variety of academic and athletic recognitions at USCD, ranging from All-West Coast Conference honorable mentions to a WCC All-Academic honorable mention.
However, Spinosa hit a roadblock toward the end of her sophomore year. An elbow injury took her out of competitive play for several months and halted her two years of continuous collegiate play.
The road to recovery was long. Initially, Spinosa’s goal was to play in fall tournaments, but it was not until Georgetown’s first match of the season against Drexel (9-1) on Jan. 27 that she competed in a real match.
She stepped on the court for both singles and doubles play against the Dragons. She began the day alongside sophomore Cecilia Lynham to win their third doubles matchup in a 6-2 finish. She went on to knock off her sixth singles opponent in straight sets to notch a 6-2, 7-6 victory. Georgetown won that match 7-0. Spinosa has played in a host of singles and doubles matches since then, but she remains proudest of that match from this season.
“That was the first match that I’d really been in a competitive situation since May of last year,” she said. “And I had a lot of pressure coming out of the gates to prove myself on the team, and to get a first win felt really good.”
The most challenging components of recovering were training and independent conditioning. Being a new member of the team while simultaneously having to deal with a serious injury put her in a place where much of her work was done on her own.
“To compliment Drew, she had to do so much on her own,” Ernst said. “She comes in, she’s new, she doesn’t know anyone, she’s hurt, we’re all doing our thing, and she had to be very independent in a lot of ways to get herself ready and to work that injury back into shape and she did it.”
Since her return to play, Spinosa has dominated in singles and doubles. On Feb. 5 she downed Harvard freshman Nika Besker in straight sets, and she and Lynham paired up to win their match 6-2. Spinosa also won in straight sets against University of Massachusetts’ sixth singles player Feb. 10. She continued her winning streak against Temple, emerging victorious in straight
sets again with a 6-3, 6-2 finish.
Regardless of Spinosa’s success early on, she has high expectations for herself going into the rest of the season.
“I still get nervous in tight situations and that comes from not having a lot of experience lately, so as the season goes forward I’m really trying to set that up,” Spinsosa said.
Going forward, Spinosa is not only encouraged by her desire to succeed as a new athlete in Georgetown’s program, but also by her new teammates’ work ethics.
“Even on days when we’re not having practice or we’re not having weights, you see every girl in the gym running, doing extra conditioning, always hitting extra on the weekends when we don’t have practice,” Spinosa said. “It’s just a great change from my last experience is just to be on a team where everyone has the same goal and the same mindset.”
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.