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Scottish freshman joins Iowa women’s tennis

BY CONRAD SWANSON | SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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A new face on the Iowa women’s tennis team — and new visitor to this country — worked out this week at the Klotz Outdoor Tennis Courts in preparation for the first tournament of the year.

Morven McCulloch, a native of St. Andrews, Scotland, is adjusting to her new life as a student-athlete at Iowa.

Coming to Iowa was a last-minute development for McCulloch, who also visited Oklahoma during her search for a U.S. school. While she said she regrets the short notice and uninformed nature of her decision, she said she’s happy with her choice.

The freshman said she prefers Iowa City to Norman, if for nothing more than the landscape — she said she appreciates Iowa’s rolling hills after seeing the vast flatness of Oklahoma.

McCulloch’s sport of choice when she was younger was golf, but she started playing tennis for fun when she was 5 and moved to a more competitive level several years later.

“When I was 12, I went to Edinburgh [Scotland’s capital] in order to play a lot more tennis at a higher standard,” she said.

She attended a boarding school in Edinburgh, where she learned to balance work, school, and tennis.Boarding school also helped her get used to living on her own, and now, even though she does miss home, it’s helped her transition to an new country.

“It’s been quite easy, because everyone here has been so much more welcoming,” she said.

Jesse Medvene-Collins, the team’s second-year assistant coach, attributed some of McCulloch’s ease to a high level of autonomy she has been able to develop over her years away from home.

“She’s an independent kid, and she’s traveled a lot on her own,” Medvene-Collins said. “I’m sure it’s helped her transition here.”

Medvene-Collins traveled to Europe to see McCulloch play, but there wasn’t much time for the two to interact.

The same goes for head coach Katie Dougherty, who said the two never met each other in person until McCulloch came to Iowa City; they communicated through phone calls and emails.

Now that she’s in Iowa, McCulloch said, she’s looking forward to experiencing a wide variety of opponents — a significant change from the small selection of players in the United Kingdom.

“I’m excited to play new people and see what the level is,” she said. “We always play the same people in Britain, because there’s not a huge number of players in the age group.”

McCulloch said that variety has helped her game as she has tried to improve her play from the back of the court.

Dougherty said she’s happy to have McCulloch’s talent and experience on the team. The third-year head coach also said the freshman is interacting well with the team’s other athletes.

“Everyone enjoys being around her,” Dougherty said. “She’s a positive and fun individual.”


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