Sampson uses team-support to win at championships

Julio Rodriguez

Sampson plans to continue playing for the HVCC women's tennis team next season. PHOTO BY JULIO RODRIGUEZ | The Hudsonian Student Newspaper

Sampson plans to continue playing for the HVCC women’s tennis team next season.

“My goals for the season were to become a better tennis player all around. Coach said, ‘We could make it to regionals.’ I didn’t actually believe I was going to make it to regionals and win,” said freshman liberal arts student Sarah Sampson.

On Oct. 8, Sampson won the NJCAA Region III No.3 Singles Tennis Championship and was named to the First-Team All-Region team.
Sampson became the seventh Hudson Valley student-athlete to earn First-Team All-Region honors since 2012 and the first since Kathleen Mai was named the Vikings No.2 singles player in 2015.

Sampson has been playing since the age of five, but her tennis career has encountered some roadblocks on the way to Hudson Valley.

“I’ve played since I was five. I stopped because it was too much for me. I got back into it when I was in ninth grade. I was playing tennis and basketball at the same time, but I wasn’t feeling basketball anymore. So, I focused my attention to tennis. That helped me realize I loved tennis more than any other sport,” said Sampson.

At the beginning of the season, Sampson’s only goal was to become a better tennis player.

“It was my main goal to become a better player. My goals were reached. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to win. I really didn’t. It was surreal when I won. I thought, ‘oh my god.’ I think I reached it, 100 percent,” said Sampson.

In the process, Sampson has become very familiar with the stresses and pressures of balancing school work and athletics.
“Well, you have to study incredibly [hard]. You have to make sure you organize your school work with your sports. So, say I had a match at 6:00p.m., I could study an hour or two before that match. Then, I could study right after on the bus ride home which is two hours.”

“So, I always had time to do work. It was never too much of a mix up for me. It was hard sometimes, but you get used to it,” continued Sampson.

For most of her high school career, Sampson typically played doubles. By switching it up and playing singles, she was able to utilize more of the court and become better equipped to win.
“It made me feel like I accomplished so much. When I played singles here, it was like, ‘Wow, I have the chance to just be myself on the court.’ I could open up and run around. It felt good to be playing singles,” continued Sampson.

Sampson plans to continue playing tennis next year with the team. After that, she is considering SUNY Cortland for a double major in sports management and communications.

“After graduating from Hudson Valley, I plan on playing at the four-year school I transfer to. I can’t stop here. I need to continue practicing year round. I plan on playing tennis until I can’t play anymore. I’m thinking about SUNY Cortland. That’s my top choice,” said Sampson.

Sampson expressed her gratitude towards everyone who helped get her to championships, especially when it comes to her teammates and Coach Potenza.

“I would like to give thanks to my teammates, coach and the athletic department for everything,” she said. “The uniforms, the travel, the equipment. I know that it was probably highly expensive for the Nike gear.”

Sampson continued, “I want to thank my coach for calmly talking to me and calming me down when I was incredibly nervous. She let me know it was going to be okay, no matter what. The entire time, she just believed in me and made me feel like I could do it.”

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