Netherlands Tennis Star Takes UAlbany Courts
By Lauren Navratil
Nov. 24, 2015
On a tennis team consistently purely of international students, only one girl comes from the Netherlands. On the court, this senior athlete is known as ‘Chopi’, but off the court, she goes by Mireille Hermans.
According to Hermans, most people in the Netherlands who want to pursue tennis will usually come to the United States, so she contacted an agency that put together a video of her playing tennis to send to various universities across the country.
The University at Albany decided to recruit her, and after speaking with the coaches and getting to know more about the location, she had a good feeling about the university and decided that it would be a perfect fit for her.
“It was a big adventure. Coming to UAlbany as a freshman was my first time in the
United States, and I didn’t know anyone, but it turned out okay, and I really like it here,”
Hermans said, “It’s just a great opportunity to study and play sports at the same time because I could only do one or the other in the Netherlands. I can pursue both my passion and an academic career.”
In high school, Hermans played for a tennis academy, allowing her to travel across Europe to counties like Sweden and Luxembourg for matches. She was ranked the 13th best player for her age group in the Netherlands at that time.
“I can’t imagine not playing tennis,” Hermans said. “I mean, I’ve been playing it all my life!”
This spring will mark Hermans fourth and final season playing for the UAlbany women’s tennis team, and she couldn’t be more excited. At the beginning of a day that she has a match, Hermans usually listens to music, distances herself from people, and tries to slip into the perfect mind set.
“You wake up in the morning and you’re just like, okay, I have a match today. I’ll usually have a specific goal set in my head, like focusing on staying calm or forming a strategy,” she said. “I find it difficult if the match gets cancelled because I had already been thinking about it so much, and even when I’m doing something else, it’s still in the back of my mind.”
The women on the tennis team are currently going through the off-season period, but Hermans says that the off-season really isn’t an off-season. Tennis, specifically, involves a lot of quick movements, so players need to maintain proper agility training all year round.
“It’s never really a vacation. You have to keep playing tennis as much as possible, and it’s very important to stay in shape,” Hermans said. “Even when I go home for winter break, I have to make sure that I’m being productive because I will have to pass a running test when I come back in order to stay out of trouble.”
When asked if Hermans draws inspiration from anyone or anything, one name came to mind very quickly: Roger Federer – one of the most well-known and skilled tennis players today.
“When he plays, it just looks so easy. He’s always so nice and kind to everyone, he never seems annoyed on the court, and everything he touches just goes exactly where he wants it to when he plays,” Hermans said of Federer.
In the future, Hermans doesn’t see herself pursing a professional career in tennis, but she would like to keep playing whenever she can and possibly coach at some point.
“People always ask me when they’re going to see me at Wimbledon,” she joked.
“But there’s such a huge gap between college tennis and Wimbledon.”
As a psychology major, Hermans hopes to attend grad school back in the Netherlands and pursue a PhD to become a psychologist. While living in the United States, she’s realized how much she loves the Netherlands.
“You would think that America and the Western World would be similar, but they aren’t. Even the way people communication is just different,” Hermans said. “I knew English when I came here, but sometimes I’m not able to express myself the way I want to, and in the Netherlands, I can just speak my own language.”
Hermans wants to focus more on academics after her last tennis season and graduation, and after spending a few years back in her home country, she says she might find herself back in the United States if an opportunity arises. However, she once visited Australia for an internship and loved it there, so she’s not entirely sure what will happen in the future.
“It’s crazy to think how different my life will be one year from now. It’s very exciting and just one more adventure, you know?”
Hermans and the tennis team will begin that last adventure in the spring.