Emma Ferguson learned just how practice makes perfect playing tennis at Troy Buchanan. Now she plays tennis at Webster University, where she is attending to study advertising marketing in communications and minoring in graphic design. Ferguson started playing tennis when she was around 12 years old, when she went to a high school camp with Troy Buchanan High School. She joined the girls high school tennis team her freshman year, but didn’t start excelling at the sport until sophomore year after practicing and playing with friends during summer vacation.
Playing a lot in the summer paid off, as she eventually moved up to the number two spot for singles on the team during junior and senior year, and alternated between the number one and two spots for doubles. Originally, the head coach at Webster went to scout Ferguson’s doubles partner, but ended up recruiting Ferguson.
Webster University does not offer athletic scholarships, but Ferguson was able to receive good academic scholarships based on grades and ACT scores. She shared that one of the hardest parts of playing a college sport is time management.
“I was pretty good at time management in like getting to classes in high school, but it’s different because then my practices were just after school, you know? And so in college sometimes I would have a class, then practice, then back to campus for class you know,” Ferguson said on how she adjusted to college differences. “It was hard sometimes ‘cause we would also have workouts, so I’d be waking up at 6 a.m. for workouts, and then have all day class, and then sometimes practice also. It’s definitely a big time commitment, but it’s worth it.”
Ferguson tried multiple other sports as a child, running the gamut from figure skating to cheerleading and gymnastics, but none of them ever stuck until she found tennis.
Her favorite memories of tennis in high school include her general senior season, as she and her double partner only lost once.
“It was just really cool because we got to learn each other’s style and we knew how to work with each other so well,” Ferguson said, before mentioning how much she also enjoyed her senior night. “For senior night in high school, it’s when we celebrate the seniors, and we can invite a teacher and it’s a celebration before the last home match. That was a really emotional night. I wasn’t really expecting it to be, but it just kind of hit me.”
“My favorite tennis memory from college was our spring break trip,” Ferguson said, “The girls and guys teams go to Hilton Head, South Carolina, every year and it’s a blast. We get to play some really good tennis against schools from all over. It was a great time to improve and bond while having fun on the beach before conference play started.”
Looking back at who has supported her the most, Ferguson said her parents always encouraged her and were proud of her. That support, along with the competition and fun summer games with friends kept her tied to the sport. Her coaches also played a big role in helping her improve.
“Coach Talley took over as the head coach my junior year I believe, and she like really pushed us. Cause I remember the team hadn’t had a winning record in a while, but then our junior year we did and our senior year we did,” Ferguson said, “She like really stepped in and upped the conditioning, and just the style of coaching really helped me to get a lot better.”
At times, Ferguson said she has been tempted to quit, as in both high school and college her teams have had inner turmoil between players.
She said that dealing with the drama made her not want to go to practice even though she still loved the sport.
Her parents encouraged her in high school to keep playing, and she decided to stick through with it.
“I think that that kind of stuff happens on teams everywhere, just the behind the scenes stuff that most people don’t see. Overall its a good program and I’m really happy to be here, but it has kind of sometimes made me to where like its not as enjoyable as it should be.”
Despite struggles, Ferguson said she still loves the sport and plans to continue with the team.
Once she graduates, she plans to continue to play competitively in recreational leagues such as the USTA.
She shared that one reason she loves the sport so much is that people can play tennis well into their 60s-70s, thus she looks forward to playing in her sport for a long time.
“I’m really really glad that I had the opportunity and I took the opportunity to play in college,” Ferguson said, “Not everyone who plays in high school gets that chance, so I’m just really thankful. I think if you have the opportunity you should definitely seriously consider it.”