At age five, Suzanne Wright began banging a tennis ball against her garage wall in New Zealand. Fifteen years later, her opponents are the best collegiate women’s tennis players in the country. Now in her junior year, Wright has risen to the forefront of the women’s tennis team as its co-captain and first-singles player.
Tennis for Wright has always been a family affair. Her dad is a tennis coach, so naturally, Wright became interested in the sport at a young age. Her younger brother and sister also share her love of the game.
“I like how tennis is both an individual and a team sport. It combines skill and fitness,” remarked Wright.
Wright entered her first tournament at age 10, and has since garnered many tennis titles. At 13, when most kids are worried about climbing the rope in gym, Wright was the 14-and-under and 16-and-under champion of New Zealand. While attending St. Cuthbert’s College, Wright earned the distinction of being the No. 3 junior tennis player in New Zealand.
There are only five universities in New Zealand, and none of them offer intercollegiate athletics, so Wright looked abroad to further her tennis career. She wanted a school with not just a tennis focus, and she found what she was looking for at Cornell. Before coming to Ithaca, the longest time Wright had spent away from home was five weeks.
“It was a pretty big shock to the system,” commented Wright about leaving home for a year. “It’s a lot easier after you’ve found your niche.”
Wright certainly found her niche on the tennis court her freshman season with a 22-9 singles record and a 6-1 record in Ivy play. She was named to the All-Ivy first team and voted the Red’s MVP and Rookie of the Year. Playing first singles her sophomore year, Wright again earned All-Ivy first team honors with a 14-7 singles record and a 4-3 record in Ivy play.
Now in her third season, Wright has taken on a new role as co-captain of the team.
“If you asked me a couple of years ago, I don’t think I would have seen myself [as captain]. You get used to it. Now I really enjoy it,” said Wright.
Head coach Angela Rudert is very pleased with Wright’s ability as a leader on and off the court.
“[She’s] not one of those loud captains who yells a lot to pep up her teammates, but she is a captain who leads by example. If you watch her play on the court, she’s got a nice manner, she’s got incredible sportsmanship,” praised Rudert.
“She always treats her teammates well and her opponents well, but she goes out there and does what she has to do to win, and so she’s a great leader in that respect. She works very hard in practices, she works hard off the court too. Her teammates really look up to her,” Rudert continued.
This spring, Wright is off to a terrific 8-1 start, her only loss coming after a three-set battle with a nationally-ranked player from Temple. She will face tougher competition from her Ivy opponents in upcoming matches.
“I am really looking forward to the Ivies. There is always something a bit different, a little bit more competitive about them. You want to do really well, and I think I will come across some of my toughest matchups during that time,” finished Wright.
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach