Two of Wagga's biggest tennis exports are back in the country following vastly different college seasons over in the United States.
Trey Murphy, playing for McPherson College, helped his Bulldogs side clinch the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Tournament Championship and enjoyed a successful season on court.
While for Kaitlin Staines, she ended her college career on the sidelines, taking up a coaching role with Texas Tech after knee surgery during the back half of last year prevented her from getting on court.
Murphy's third year at McPherson was a very successful one as his Bulldogs side went through the KCAC regular season undefeated before going on to defeat Ottawa University 4-0 in the Tournament Championship.
That qualified them for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Championships where they fell in the first round to Union College 4-0.
Despite the disappointing loss at nationals, Murphy was pretty happy with how the season went.
"It has gone good," Murphy said.
"Coming off a win last season, we won our conference tournament final 4-0.
"We came off that and we had a good run as season champions and then finished off with a win our tournament to head to nationals."
Murphy and his Slovenian doubles partner Jakob Komel had their chances in their match-up against Ottawa, where they had a few match points but they eventually went down in the tie-break 7-4.
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Murphy has been back in Wagga for a few weeks and is jetting off again on Sunday to have a break before getting ready to get back on the court in preparation for the upcoming season.
"I've been back three weeks now and I leave on Sunday to go to California to have a little bit of a trip there during summer break," he said.
"Going into the fall it is mainly individual tournament's for our school and the spring is the more team based competitions.
"I will go back and practice a little bit and we will have some fun competing in singles and doubles."
Murphy is heading into his final year of his college career and looking forward to making the most of his final year in the program.
"Honestly I am just trying to get the most out of it," he said.
"I will try to get some wins heading into my last season and hope to do good at the regional's competition to try and get ranked early."
Studying a Bachelor of Health Science which he will graduate in May 2023, Murphy is not entirely sure of his plans post graduation.
"I am looking at doing physiotherapy but where I am going to do it I am not too sure yet," he said.
"I don't know if I'll study here or I'll continue somewhere else."
After three years of playing in the states, Murphy has found that there is sizeable difference between how the game is played in Australia compared to the United States.
"The biggest difference is definitely the people you play against," he said.
"The culture is very different, a lot of the people I play against would play more baseline slow tennis.
"Here in Australia people enjoy the faster tennis, slapping balls and hitting winners while over there it is more slow paced."
Staines returns to Wagga after a four and a half year college career including stints at the University of Tennessee and Texas Tech.
Fresh off a plane, she was glad to get back home.
"I am very happy to be home," Staines said.
"It's kind of strange, I am used to booking a two-way ticket and now I am coming home after four years.
"It is good to see everybody and I am really excited for the next chapter."
Following major surgery in August last year that included a tibial osteotomy and a complete patella transplant, Staines is well on the way to her recovery and looking forward to hitting the court again in the next few months.
"I technically don't get cleared to play matches until August but I am back hitting a few balls lightly," she said.
"I'm really keen to get back into it again, I miss it a lot."
While unable to take to the court, Staines was still heavily involved in her teammates season taking on a roll as a student assistant in the Red Raiders coaching squad.
"I took on a coaching role while I was over there for the past season with the team which I enjoyed as it allowed me to stay within tennis over there," she said.
"I loved it, I wish I was out there playing but it was a way for me to still stay involved."
Staines graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology in May and is excited about what the next chapter of her life will bring.
"I am really pumped to get that degree, I think it is a growing field," she said.
"The plan is to get a masters degree and try and get a job within psychology.
"I am hoping to focus more on sports psychology which is what I'm more interested in and go from there.
"Hopefully one day I am able to work with some of the top athletes."
Looking back on her time in the United States, Staines was grateful for her opportunity to head over there and compete in such a competitive program.
"It was just such an amazing opportunity getting to meet some of the people that I did," she said.
"It's a different competition over there and getting to play in that team environment was something a little different because tennis is pretty individual outside of that."
One of the things that Staines will miss the most is her teammates, with which she had created such a tight bond with during her time overseas.
"The friendships that I've made over there, I think I am going to miss them a lot," she said.
"You play with seven or eight other sisters on your team as well as the people you meet along the way.
"Learning about a different culture I think is cool and even them making fun of me because of my accent everyday.
"It was really eye opening and a great experience."
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