Aside from the intense competition that comes with the territory of being a collegiate athlete, Sarah Lynch knew what she wanted from her college tennis experience: spring break tennis tournaments and team camaraderie, just to name a couple.
At Slippery Rock, Lynch found all of that and more.
"My last spring break trip was really memorable," said Lynch. "We all knew each other for years at that point. By already being such good friends, working together as a team was really easy. Everyone cheered, and if someone lost, we helped each other pick up the pieces. I spent a lot of time with each girl, and it was a great feeling to have that opportunity."
Originally signing with Youngstown State University in western Ohio, Lynch transferred to Slippery Rock University in western Pa. after one season in Youngstown.
The decision was a good one for Lynch. The former No. 1-ranked Middle States girl in the Allegheny Mountain District is now one of only seven players in Slippery Rock history to surpass 100 career victories. In three seasons at the Rock, she compiled a 116- 36 record. Lynch owned a 20-6 singles mark and went 18-5 in doubles as the school’s No. 1 player this season, helping her team earn a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.
"We’ve had such a good season," she said. "We won the matches we were supposed to win. Most importantly, we’ve done a good job bonding."
Not only has Lynch bonded with her teammates, she’s developed a special relationship with her coach, Matt Meredith, which gave her an outlook on a career after college.
"Matt and I have a great relationship," Lynch said. "He is a like a father to all of us. We’re his number one priority. He’s a really smart tennis player, too. He can handle any situation and it is nice to have that type of person to lean on.
"His influence on me has really inspired me to go into coaching," Lynch added. "I love to cheer and encourage. My experience at Slippery Rock gave me that desire to want to coach at the collegiate level."
Last year, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and USTA recognized Meredith as the National Campus QuickStart Provider of the Year for his dedication to 10 and Under Tennis. Meredith brought Slippery Rock to the forefront of the 10 and Under Tennis initiative by overseeing the addition of blended lines to 12 on-campus courts. His work with 10 and Under programs has inspired many, including Lynch, who is now trained to teach 10 and Under Tennis.
"Because he is our coach, we’re given the chance to be involved," said Lynch. "For about an hour on most days, kids come down from the daycare and we work with them. We’re all engaged. It is really cool to see how excited he is about the fact that he is a pioneer for this type of program."
For now, Lynch plans to perfect her tennis teaching skills this summer upon graduating.
"This year was the first time that teaching tennis became an option for me, and I can honestly say it was because I bonded with my team and gained a true passion for the sport."