MEDFORD, Mass. – Zoe Miller's resume through two years on the tennis court at Tufts University is decent, right?
A tough and unfair critic might make that statement, but most people would say the Agoura Hills, California, native's impact has been superb since day one on the court at Tufts.
The junior, who is studying abroad in Kigali, Rwanda, this semester, has showcased her versatility during her first two seasons, as she has totaled 54 victories, with 32 coming in singles matches and 22 coming in doubles matches.
Most freshmen need time to adjust to the pace of collegiate sports, but Miller made the transition seamlessly, as she posted 27 victories during her rookie season, with 17 coming in singles action and 10 in doubles matches.
Miller's success stayed consistent during her sophomore campaign, as she recorded another 27 victories, with 15 coming in singles matches and 12 coming in doubles action. Miller's outstanding second year coincided with a tremendous season from the overall team, which included junior Lauren Louks and sophomore Mina Karamercan competing in the NCAA Division III Singles and Doubles Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
"Last season, our team made incredible leaps and bounds, and ended up in the top-10 national teams," said Miller. "We also have the advantage of still being a young team. My freshman year, we were only made of freshmen and sophomores. Now, we have been gaining more experience as college players, and have not had to graduate anyone in quite some time. I am confident our team can be top-contenders for the national championship, and I have the personal goal of more individual-match success to contribute to that."
Miller took some time recently to speak about her favorite victories at the collegiate level, while also talking about her journey into the sport of tennis and where she sees herself in five years.
Q: What did you focus on improving during this past offseason?
A: In the offseason of my first and second year, I paid special attention to learning how to balance all the craziness of college, sport and life. Success on the court comes from a combination of external factors as well. It is important to stay grounded in what excites you in college, and then to figure out how to make it all work in a healthy and productive way.
Q: What has been your favorite collegiate victory on the singles and doubles side?
A: In singles, I played a great match at the end of this past season against a singles player from Amherst in the NESCAC Championships. It felt like a great victory because it took all the mental energy and swinging volleys I could manage, and I was able to add to the team points in a crucial match. For doubles, senior Chelsea Hayashi and I were fired up after our win against a doubles team from Wesleyan this last season. Chelsea and I played with crazy energy that fed off each other throughout the match.
Q: How old were you when you started playing tennis and what pushed you into the sport?
A: I started playing when I was 8 years old, and started competing when I was around 12. As an annoying, younger sister, I had to try all the same things my sister did, so naturally I took a turn after sitting on the sidelines during her tennis lessons. She did not stick with it, and instead pursued dancing. I dropped rhythmic gymnastics, and became obsessed with tennis.
Q: What is the most enjoyable part of tennis and what is the most difficult part of the sport?
A: The individuality of the sport serves as both the most enjoyable and difficult. Your progress as a player and your commitment is entirely up to you – the sport has taught me an incredible level of discipline that I am unbelievably grateful for. On the flip side, it is a lonely sport when you are competing and have to battle the mental part of the game on your own.
Q: Who is the funniest player on the team?
A: This is a hard one – we all have so many different sides that make for such a fun team dynamic. Otilia Popa is always quick with the puns and has such an uplifting vibe on life.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
A: Time travel would be pretty great, not to change any events, but to witness some moments of the past and future. I imagine there would be a lot of learning there, only if it did not mess with the space-time continuum of course.
Q: Where do you envision yourself being in five years?
A: Maybe the time-traveling superpower would help answer this one, but seriously I have no idea, just many dreams. I am currently spending the semester in Kigali, Rwanda, and would love to live here after school. I would probably like to have my own dog or three, and plan to work in international development of some sort.
Q: If you could describe yourself in two sentences to someone you just met, what would you say?
A: Hello, I am Zoe, and I am always interested to hear what you have to share. Add a few laughs and some mutual respect, and you and I should be friends.
Written by Trevor Wenners, Athletic Communications Intern