It’s been more than six months since Wagga tennis sensation Kaitlin Staines began her journey with the University of Tennessee and the world is starting to take notice.
The 18-year-old burst onto the US college tennis scene with ten straight victories in both her singles and doubles fixtures to push her doubles ranking as high as 36th in the country.
Staines’ superb form in the orange and grey uniform was instrumental in taking the Tennessee ‘Lady Vols’ to the NCAA tennis finals and led her to receive both Freshman of the Week honours and high praise from her coaching staff.
Having since finished the regular season with a 15-6 record in singles and an impressive 15-4 record in doubles, Staines has returned to Wagga for some welcome family time.
“I’ve been back for three weeks and it’s so nice to be home,” she said.
“The next season doesn’t start for a while ... so I’ve got until August to spend time with my family.”
It’s been a whirlwind journey for the Wagga junior, who admitted university attendance could often take a back seat in her gruelling schedule.
“The whole thing’s been like a movie, honestly, and everyone is so nice,” Staines said.
“I think they really like Australians which is nice … but it can be very full on.”
Weeks worth of bus trips have become part and parcel of the touring experience but Staines doesn’t mind the extra travel.
“We play against a whole heap of colleges and we’re only back on campus three or four days a week because we’ve got to get to the next game or venue,” Staines said.
“We’re always on the bus heading down somewhere like Texas or Louisiana or somewhere else in the South and it’s pretty cool.”
The quality of her opponents is another welcome challenge for the former top 100 ranked junior.
“It’s a good level of competition and it’s pretty full on,” she said.
“Next year should be really good as well because we’ll have pretty much the exact same team playing.
“We didn’t have any seniors this year so I think we’ll give it a good crack next season.”
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