Seaborne looks back at Iowa career

BY KYLE MANN | APRIL 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s tennis team will conclude its regular season at home this weekend, facing Ohio State at 3 p.m. today as well as Penn State on April 20. Lone senior Ruth Seaborne will also be celebrated on the latter, Iowa’s Senior Day.

Boy, is there a lot to celebrate.

Born and raised in Wimbledon, London, Seaborne has been close to tennis her entire life. That is not to say, however, that tennis hasn’t taken her on a journey. It has.

Seaborne lived in London through high school and competed in numerous International Tennis Federation tournaments. She is particularly proud of having competed at the Junior Wimbledon Championships in 2010, in which she defeated the present-day No. 7 Division I women’s tennis player, Lauren Herring of Georgia.

Coming out of high school, Seaborne said, she had a decision to make.

“We haven’t got opportunities like this in the UK, in terms of scholarships to a university,” she said. “You either go to a university and stop playing, or you play and don’t go to a university.”

But having to choose school or tennis wasn’t going to cut it for the academic-minded Seaborne, so she moved to the United States.

“Knowing what the opportunities were here, I wanted to utilize both aspects of education and tennis,” she said. “So I just went for it.”

Seaborne was an early enrollee at the age of 17 in the spring of 2011 at Florida State. Unfortunately — or fortunately for the Hawkeyes — an untimely stint with mononucleosis got her “out of whack,” as she put it, and looking for a change.

Having previously met head coach Katie Dougherty, Seaborne decided to compete for the Hawkeyes, and she said she hasn’t looked back.

“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she said. “Coach Dougherty and the Athletics Department here have definitely gotten the best out of me.”

Dougherty agrees. From her perspective, Seaborne has made great strides at Iowa both as a player and as a leader.

“It’s been really fun to watch her progress, and I’m really proud of everything she’s done for our program,” Dougherty said. “She’s been a rock at the top of our singles and doubles lineup for the last two years.”

When trying to put a finger on why Seaborne is having the best season of her career — she has won two Big Ten Athlete of the Week awards with a 13-6 record — both player and coach agree that the senior has matured significantly in her years at Iowa.

Seaborne recalled that she was the baby at Florida State, having entered college at age 17, but she has changed roles with the Hawkeyes.

“Part of that process was getting to play at the top of the lineup and being stuck in a leadership role, which she has embraced and done a great with,” Dougherty said. “Ruth’s doing a great job of making everybody better, and they’re all following.”

Of the other players on the team, junior Morven McCulloch — who prior to last weekend had shared a 10-match winning streak as a doubles partner with Seaborne — particularly appreciates the senior’s leadership and poise.

“She’s a really good leader for our team,” she said. “She’s always bringing the energy at matches and practices. She’s always really confident toward how I play, and if I’m getting down in our matches, she’s always there to pick me up.”

“I’m playing for the team, as opposed to playing for myself,” Seaborne said. “I haven’t enjoyed tennis as much as when I’ve been at Iowa. Having this group around you; they’re good teammates, good friends.”

She has one more weekend to enjoy it.

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