By: Shana McHugh
“Can we go get a treat?” Alexandra asks her friends as they sit in her room studying. Moments later they find themselves waiting in the drive-thru line of the new Krispy Kreme on Jefferson Avenue, joking about her routine nightly “treat” after a hard day of practice on the tennis court. Alexandra rides home all smiles with her fresh, hot doughnuts in hand. A sophomore from Salisbury, North Carolina, Alexandra is known to most by her nickname “Flex”, “it’s a combination of my parents’ nickname for me, Fifi and Alexandra, so one day someone came up with “Flex” and it stuck.”
A proud student athlete and sorority member, Flex has learned the valuable lessons of being a team player and has seen the benefits of big support systems. Flex is one of four women, out of twelve, on her team involved in Greek life, two of which are in her sorority, Phi Mu. “Greek life and the tennis team support me in different ways. Greek life supports me on a more personal level, while the tennis team supports me more in my daily endeavors. They both are instrumental in my support even though they support me in different ways. It’s really cool for me because Greek life and tennis collide for me since I have several sisters on the team with me.”
Balancing college is an adjustment every freshman must face, especially being an out of state student. This adjustment becomes even harder when you add in the long hours dedicated to a game you love. Always naturally athletic, Flex’s interest in tennis began before she started high school. Her friends’ interest in tennis sparked her own, but her love for the sport is what has led to her success on the court. Just last year, as a freshman, Flex earned second team All-State for singles, second team All-Conference honors at No. 1 doubles and ranked 10th regionally in doubles with McKinney Hardwood, one of her sorority sisters. She started her career on the CNU tennis team with an incredible 4-0 performance at the George Mason Invitational during the 2014-2015 season and led the team with 19 singles victories and 22 doubles wins, and these don’t include her accomplishments from the current 2015-2016 season. Flex’s accomplishments speak volumes about her work ethic. She gives her all in everything she does, and that plays out both on and off the court.
The old cliché, “there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’” fits appropriately in Flex’s life. The support systems she surrounds herself with have become her favorite parts of CNU, but how does a young high schooler from North Carolina end up at CNU? What drew her to this campus was the tennis team coaching staff, “I loved the tennis coaches and was really excited for their plans with the tennis program. The coaches make it an intense DIII program, which is what I wanted.” She was infatuated by their plans to take the tennis program further and further every year. She knew she would be proud to belong to a team that works together to better itself every day. And she saw this through the coaches’ intensive DIII program. Flex’s favorite part of playing tennis is the team, “I love going through tough practices, hard conditioning and difficult matches with them. I think it makes us closer, and thus more fun.” Searching for more team-like environments on CNU’s campus is what led Flex to consider Greek life.
Greek life is another aspect of college that can be overwhelming for adjusting freshmen. I can’t even imagine how much more overwhelming the process becomes when it’s officially tennis season and it’s your first year on a new team. But the tennis team’s strong bond made Flex interested in planting more roots on CNU’s campus and thus lead to her decision to join Greek life, “I wanted to go through recruitment because I had only been around and met the tennis team and I wanted to meet new people but didn’t really know how. I also wanted to get involved with something other than tennis to balance it out. I wanted a support system and a group of people I could call my home away from home.”
Greek life has played a major role in Flex’s college career, and she can attribute this to her tennis team. As a freshmen, Flex met her teammate Katie Carlson, a sophomore at the time, who had gone through recruitment her freshman year, after coming to CNU from Omaha, Nebraska to play tennis. Katie’s enthusiasm for not only the tennis team, but Greek life as well helped Flex search for other ways to get involved on CNU’s campus-which lead her to follow Katie’s footsteps and join Greek life. Flex was also accompanied by her teammate McKinney Hardwood through the sorority recruitment process and Flex was overjoyed on the last day of recruitment to see that she, McKinney and Katie would be teammates on both the tennis team and in Phi Mu.
While school comes first, tennis comes second for Flex, and as a result, she’s had to really work on time management in order to fit everything into her busy schedule. Not only is Flex balancing school work and tennis, having to plan out her schedule far in advance to make sure her work is done before each match, especially tournaments and matches on other campuses that usually last three days. But now Flex had to learn how to adjust to adding Greek life into her schedule. One year later, Flex continues to find a balance that works perfectly for her. She lives in the Phi Mu house with eight of her other sisters, spends time studying in the library with both teammates and sorority sisters and benefits from the huge support system she has to come watch her games when her parents can’t make the trip from North Carolina.
Flex is full of ambition and determination, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Flex is constantly making her friends and teammates laugh. Her ability to laugh at herself is one of her most admirable traits. Her friends love watching her on the court and her teammates have nothing but positive things to say about her. The time and dedication she puts into maintaining her high GPA and relationships and success in both her athletics and social life add to her well-rounded personality. She sticks to her routines because she knows what works best for her. While her friends laugh at her early bed times and night time snacks, they admire her for the way she gives her all to everything she involves herself with. Flex works hard for all her accomplishments both on and off the court. Flex still has two years left on the team and I personally can’t wait to see what she will continue to contribute not only to the tennis team, but to CNU’s campus as a whole.