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Meet Georgia Tech sophomore Kirsten Flower

March 25, 2008 10:59 AM

Georgia Tech sophomore Kirsten Flower made an immediate impact upon joining the Georgia Tech women's tennis team last year, helping lead the Yellow Jackets to its first ever NCAA Women's Tennis Championship in 2007. The 19-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, has not only shown great success on the court, but in the classroom, as well. She was named a 2007 ITA Scholar Athlete and a member of the 2007 ACC Honor Roll. Kirsten took time from her busy schedule to answer some questions for USTA.com.


USTA.com:
You’ve had such great success both individually and with the Georgia Tech team since you began your collegiate career last year. What do you consider your top highlights so far?

Kirsten Flower: My top highlights with the team are winning two ITA National Indoor Championships and winning the NCAA Championships last May. I think it is way more fun when you accomplish things with a team because you get to share the experience with close friends. Individually, I think that my top highlight would be when I reached the quarterfinals of the ITA National Indoor Singles Tournament my freshman year.

USTA.com: What was it like to win the NCAA Team Championship?

Kirsten Flower: Winning NCAAs was the most memorable moment in my life. Our team had worked so hard during the spring, and to close out the season winning the biggest tournament in college tennis was just the most unbelievable feeling. I am pretty sure that we were all on cloud nine for about a month! I am a big sports fan, and I kept thinking about all of the great teams in the different sports that have won this championship in the past, and I could not believe that our team had joined their ranks. I know that our whole team still gets shivers whenever we go back and watch the highlight video!

USTA.com: Did you ever think of turning pro right after juniors, or did you always know you wanted to play college tennis?

Kirsten Flower: When I was really young, all I wanted to do was play pro tennis and not even go the college route. But as I got older, I became more realistic and realized that I still needed time to develop my game and get stronger. College tennis is perfect for a player like me because I take advantage of the fact that I have world-class coaches and teammates to practice with every day, in addition to a great strength and conditioning coach, so it is the perfect environment for improvement.

USTA.com: How did you decide on attending Georgia Tech? Were there other schools you were considering, as well?

Kirsten Flower: I chose to come to Georgia Tech because of the coach, Bryan Shelton. He is the most respected person I have ever met and will forever be one of my role models, plus he is obviously a great tennis coach! Another big reason why I came to Georgia Tech was because of the girls on the team. When I came in for an unofficial visit, they made me feel right at home and a part of the family. I could not ask for better teammates. Other schools that I considered were Northwestern, UCLA and Ohio State.

USTA.com: What advice would you give to a junior player who is being recruited?

Kirsten Flower: I would tell them to put a lot of emphasis on the people directly involved with the tennis team because they become your family as soon as you step onto campus. Coach Shelton always tells us that the most important things in life are the relationships that you form along the way, and I couldn’t agree more. Facilities and location are great, but the true substance of the experience lies in the relationships and friendships that you form.

USTA.com: In addition to your on-court success, you’ve also done great academically, being named a 2007 ITA Scholar Athlete and a member of the 2007 ACC Honor Roll. How do you balance playing on the tennis team with your studies?

Kirsten Flower: Balancing school and tennis at Georgia Tech is very hard because of the rigorous academics at the school. It’s hard to balance because I take school very seriously, but getting good grades requires a lot of time being put into studying, and most of the time I would rather be playing tennis or working out. In order to make sure that I get everything done, each week I make a list of assignments I need to do, tests I need to study for, and even errands that I need to run – that way I won’t forget anything. My teammates make so much fun of me for it, but I think I would completely lose my brain if I didn’t write everything down! I can admit that I am a nerd!

USTA.com: Was it tough to make the transition from high school studies and junior tennis to college classes and tennis?

Kirsten Flower: I remember my high school teachers making a big deal about how hard the transition is from high school to college, but I actually did not have that much trouble making the transition. I lived on my own when I went to the Weil Tennis Academy in Southern California, so I was used to having many responsibilities. As for transitioning into college tennis, the tough part was realizing that I was now part of a team and not just an individual player. In the beginning, I was a little selfish concerning my tennis and what I needed to do to get better. I learned very quickly that I needed to be more helpful to my teammates and that it is just as important for me to help them improve as it is for me to improve.

USTA.com: What do you like most about playing college tennis and about college life, in general?

Kirsten Flower:
The thing that I like the most about college tennis is that it is so energetic. In college, I feel free to be really loud and energetic for my teammates. I love the fact that everyone gets so pumped up and cheers for all of their teammates during matches. In juniors, players were way more reserved on the court, but it is so much more fun being loud! As for college life, I love the fact that everyone is really laid back. College students are just trying to have a good time, so it makes for a great environment to meet new people and build cool relationships.

USTA.com: I read that your father played tennis at Ohio State University in the late ‘70s. Did he have any words of wisdom for you that may have helped with your transition to playing at the collegiate level?

Kirsten Flower: My dad always told me that playing college tennis was one of the best times of his life and that it will probably be the most fun I ever have playing tennis. His advice to me was to enjoy every minute of it because you only have four years, and the time goes by quickly. I think it was probably the best advice anyone gave me because it made me realize how lucky I was to have an opportunity to play college tennis.

USTA.com: What are you majoring in at Georgia Tech?

Kirsten Flower:
Management, specifically finance.

USTA.com: What do you like to do in your free time?

Kirsten Flower: I like to watch movies, run, read, listen to music, buy music on iTunes, go shopping and just hang out with friends.

USTA.com: Name some of your favorite things:

Kirsten Flower:

  • Movie: "Blood Diamond" and "Atonement"
  • Actor/actress: Johnny Depp
  • Music: soft rock… I am not exactly sure what it is called, but I like really chilled out music
  • Song: “Ride” by the Cary Brothers
  • Performer or musical group: Dave Matthews Band
  • Book: “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas
  • Sports team(s): Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Cavs, and the Georgia Tech and Ohio State football teams
  • Athlete: Roger Federer

USTA.com: What are your goals for the future – in tennis and after?

Kirsten Flower: I have always had the dream of becoming a professional tennis player, so after college I plan to try out the pro tour. When I am done playing tennis seriously (I say “seriously” because I will never stop playing tennis, I love it too much!), I plan on following my dad and becoming an investment manager.

 

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