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Sufi Leads with Example, Work Ethic

Senior transfer provides leadership for group of underclassmen

November 29, 2006 · Christian Lemon-GoBlueRaiders.com
In the world of college sports, team chemistry is everything. Any coach will tell you they would prefer a team that plays well together and works to build each other's strengths than to have a team of superstars who are only trying to make themselves look good.

When building team chemistry, one should usually look no further than the leadership of the upperclassmen on the team. In the case of the Middle Tennessee women's tennis team, this leadership comes from first-year player and senior transfer Hala Sufi.

Although she played her first three collegiate seasons at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., Sufi transferred to Middle Tennessee this year and produced a strong fall season with seven singles victories and eight doubles wins. She was also 4-2 against ranked opponents in singles this fall.

Perhaps even more impressive than her record is the leadership she has brought to the team. On a team where five of the eight members are underclassmen, Sufi is the only senior.

Her teammate Claudia Szabo comments on Sufi saying, "She sets a great example of what it takes to be a great player. She has a positive attitude and it makes us all work harder.

"I think she is one of the best players in the country," Szabo continues. "Having the opportunity to hit with her everyday improves not only myself, but the rest of the team."

Sufi came to be noticed on the national stage early in her high school career at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, Ariz. During her high school run, she was the first-ever girl to win four Arizona 4A state championships and only the second player in Arizona history to win four titles in any class. When she left high school, she was ranked No. 1 in the Southwest Region and 54th nationally in the 18-and-under division.

Since transferring to Middle Tennessee Hala has immersed herself in the life of a collegiate athlete.

"I spend a lot of time training. [Head coach] Alison [Ojeda] is a great coach and is not afraid to do what it takes to bring out the best in you."

Although the fall season has come to an end, the women's team is preparing for the upcoming spring schedule, which includes matches against Vanderbilt, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Penn State and Houston.

Sufi has already left her mark on the Middle Tennessee program not only a strong player but as a determined leader willing to help her teammates improve and grow stronger as individual players and as a team. Look for those results to continue as the Blue Raiders head for the spring season, which begins January 26-27 with home matches against Tennessee Tech and UT Martin at the Racquet Club of Murfreesboro.

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