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Being a student athlete certainly brings its challenges; but for Tallulah, her talent both on and off the field have opened the doors to some extraordinary opportunities. As a student from Canberra, she never dreamed she’d one day be playing tennis at the University of Colorado Boulder, let alone in the PAC12 conference, one of the most competitive conferences in the US.
Tallulah didn’t gain interest solely from her athletic ability. She shares that for a student-athlete, balance is crucial for success. Not only is she committed to tennis, but she’s also dedicated to pursuing a dual degree in philosophy and sports journalism. With a variety of universities to choose from, it was important to consider both sport and study when deciding which offer to accept.
We sat down with Tallulah and her mother, Christine, to find out more about her experience finding the perfect fit university for her tennis talents.
A week would look like ... gym a couple times a week and then some conditioning. Then a lot of hitting and then tournaments on the weekend. Traveling to tournaments, very rarely are they local, so it would involve getting on a plane or driving long distances to get to get there. Tallulah started playing tennis when she was three, on her own, because her dad and I don't play tennis. We watch it but we certainly don't play it. We never thought Tallulah would be a tennis player but she is. It's been a blessing and a curse not to have tournaments locally because it's meant Tallulah has had to commit to the sport. It hasn't been an easy ride. She's had to, every time, reassess whether she wants to continue on these long journeys just to play on tennis tournaments and she's never said, "No, I want to stop." She's always said, "Nope, I'm gonna be a professional tennis player."
In an intensive training block, probably about 15 to 20 hours a week.
There was a training camp about a year ago, where it was myself and seven or eight other girls and we were playing a doubles camp and I met Cara Black. I think it's spelled with the a C maybe. She won lots of doubles grand slam titles and she was ranked the number one doubles player in the world for. Just seeing her play and getting to train with her and learn from her and being able to get hands on experience with her and hear her give us feedback and positive reinforcement was a really big thing for me.
Colorado was the very first school that contacted me, I had just done my first SAT. Then they just sent me a Facebook message and I was super excited because it was the first time I had ever been contacted by a coach. This was the previous two coaches at Colorado and they said, "Oh, we're really interested in you." And I was so excited. I didn't know I would have so many coaches talking to me. I was super excited and they were already planning visits and then in the following few months, more and more coaches started messaging me.
It's exciting but it's kind of overwhelming because managing when they want to call, I blocking out times for coaches. At one point I called four coaches in a row. It was insane. It was actually pretty stressful doing that and just managing it all because they always ask, "Oh, can you send me a transcript?" And there's like 30 people asking for it. I just kept getting more friend requests and messages
I narrowed it down to Colorado, George Washington and Stetson University in Florida. I went on those visits. I went to Colorado and Stetson first and then I loved those visits. The schools were so different. I really loved Stetson, it was a small school but I think Colorado just felt like it was a good fit for me. It's in the PAC 12 conference which is one of the best conferences. It's got the football team and the college town feel and I just really love that. Then I visited George Washington. I loved it there because I loved Washington DC. Then I came back and just thought about it for a bit but I kind of knew that
I really wanted to go to Colorado but the coach at Colorado had other recruits coming, so she couldn't really say 100% yes, we're going to offer you something, if that makes sense because in this time they had changed coaches. So the two coaches that had originally recruited me had been replaced with new coaches and then they said they were also interested in me. So by the end I knew I wanted to go to Colorado but I was just waiting for them to say that they wanted me to go there.
The coach basically said, "We'd love for you to be a buff." And that was so exciting. She was just like, it's up to you and then I just knew that I wanted to go there so then I was like, "Yes, I'd love to go." And then, because she wasn't on video chat I was just dancing around the room and so happy when she was talking to me.
I know it's the right fit for me so I was so happy. The whole next week I was still happy about it of course. The whole next week I was completely buzzing. I would go to school and tell all my friends, "Oh my god guys, guess what?" I messaged all my friends straight away.
They're engaged in you as an individual and want to see you get the best result for yourself. Even when I told Michael (Tallulah's atheltic consultant), about getting into Colorado, he was so excited. He sounded almost more excited than I was. I could really feel that he was genuinely happy for me. I think Crimson is very personalised. They're really all about you. You're not just another one of their recruits. I feel like I'm the only recruit.
Tallulah's campaign was like a shared experience between Michael and Tallulah. He was very responsive and I think the age was very important. He's not that much older than Tallulah so there's commonalities there. We couldn't be more positive about Crimson and the role that they've played in this journey
Michael, and then Jeb who was my academic coordinator, were really good points of contact. Just being able to email questions and say, "Should I fill out these? Should I not fill out these? What should I ask?" Crimson really helped me to know what was going on. If there was certain thing I should or shouldn't do, at what stage should I be up to in the process. Should I have already done this? Should I have already submitted my transcripts? He was always there to help me with that. I think without him I definitely wouldn't have been on top of it as much.