Maxine Murphy Adjusting to College Life
From being homeschooled to jumping onto a Power 5 tennis team, Washington State freshman Maxine Murphy has undergone a lot of change throughout her first year in the crimson and gray.
The southern California native has taken a much different path than the typical WSU athlete, as Murphy underwent five years of virtual school in order to maximize her training in tennis.
"I basically had to learn through a computer, teach myself everything," Murphy said. "It gave me a lot of flexibility so I could train for tennis."
Although she wasn't attending a high school, Murphy attended the SHOQ Tennis Academy in Orange County, Calif. Not only did she use her time there to prepare for the next steps of her tennis career, but the academy served as a social environment as well.
Coach Kevin Jackson, who runs SHOQ Tennis, is who Murphy credits as the person that made her fall in love with the game and become the player she is now. Jackson was her coach for seven years before committing to the Palouse.
Murphy's pre-WSU tennis career was quite successful, as she was ranked sixth in Southern California Girls 18 singles and finished the 2019 season ranked first in doubles. Murphy also reached the USTA Southern California Junior Section Championships semifinals in singles and finals in doubles.
A highly sought-after recruit, Murphy looked at several schools before making her decision to be a Cougar. In the end, it came down to the environment and academics.
"It's very 'Cougar pride,' and we're all a family; I just loved the whole feel of it," Murphy said. "I was also very interested in the academic and athletic side, because I enjoy academics as much as I enjoy athletics."
Murphy, who plans to major in kinesiology with plans to be a physical therapist, admitted that being a college athlete has been a big change from what she was used to, but the best thing that has come out of it so far has been having a team to rely on.
"Just to have that support system; they always make my bad days good," Murphy said. "They are always very helpful on the tennis court because it's a team now and you're not just fending for yourself."
One of the team's uniqueness is its diversity, as all eight players are from different countries. Murphy said the diversity makes the overall experience better because of the various perspectives within the team.
Head coach Raquel Atawo, fifth-year senior Michaela Bayerlova, and seniors Yang Lee and Savanna Ly-Nguyen have already played big leadership roles for Murphy in her young career. Murphy credits the four in helping her improve the physical and mental aspects of the game.
"They're always there to push me to be better and keep me in check; they're people I really look up to," Murphy said. "Before I was very negative on the court, but they've helped me stay positive and enjoy it."
Murphy competed in her first dual match as a Cougar on Jan. 21 against BYU. Her and Bayerlova started off with a 6-4 doubles win before winning the No. 3 singles match 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Despite the pressure of her first dual, the freshman said she felt a lot more excited than nervous.
The opportunity to play doubles with Bayerlova and start in the No. 3 singles slot came as a surprise to Murphy. Bayerlova has a 51-18 doubles record during her time at WSU and is currently ranked the No. 524 singles player in the world as of Jan. 31.
"A few days before, me and Michaela played together to see if we were a good team and we were great," Murphy said. "It was a nice surprise [playing with her]."
Murphy said her and the team's mindset throughout the rest of the season is to have a lot of confidence, come to every match with a lot of energy, and fine tuning the mental aspect of the game.