Annina Brendel — a Youngstown State University freshman, tennis player and native of Germany — is already on her way to making her collegiate tennis career a successful one.
Brendel, a freshman psychology major, has played tennis since she was 6 years old. Originally from Hagenbach, Germany, Brendel came to the U.S. in August after graduating from the Europa-Gymnasium Worth School.
“The people are friendly. I feel really welcome here,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to combine studying and to play a lot of tennis.”
Brendel said the choice to come to YSU was easy.
“I liked all of the coaches, and I believed the team would be very good,” she said.
Since playing for YSU, Brendel has won the Horizon League Female Athlete of the Week honors for Feb. 11-17. The accolade marked the first of her collegiate career.
“I am very proud to win the award,” Brendel said. “It’s a great honor.”
Carolyn Jesko of Boardman, a junior psychology major and Brendel’s teammate, said she has noticed a definite growth in Brendel, both as a tennis player and as a person.
“When she first came to YSU, she was pretty quiet,” Jesko said. “During our trip to our first tournament, she had us laughing the whole time. Her sense of humor is great and quirky. She constantly is trying to get better, whether she is running at the Rec, having extra court time or hitting against the wall in Stambaugh.”
Brendel has put her hard work and dedication to the test with a record of 9-7 in dual matches.
Margarita Sadovnikova, a junior from Russia, said she thinks Brendel provides the team with more than just talents.
“She is very determined and is absolutely a hard worker. She brings that fighting edge and spirit to the team,” Sadovnikova said.
Brendel is the first to admit that she has work to do to improve her tennis game.
“My forehand is my best stroke, but I definitely need to improve my footwork and my volleys,” Brendel said.
In addition to her performance on the court, Brendel applies her sense of dedication to her academic career.
“Outside the court, she is very dedicated in her studies. I know she loves her major and spends a lot of time there,” Sadovnikova said.
Jesko said Brendel is a great student who is persistent in her studies, and the two often help each other out with coursework.Brendel said her future is still uncertain.
“I want to go back and live in Europe, but you never know what the future holds,” she said.