By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
It didn’t take long for Bellarmine College freshman Michelle McFerran to make the transition to collegiate tennis.
The Alexandria native made quite an impression as she was named to the Great Lakes Valley All-Conference Team and was also named the team’s Most Valuable Player.
“There are two awards our coach (John Mican) gives out, the Coach’s Award and the Most Valuable Player,” said McFerran in a Tuesday telephone interview. “It felt amazing to get that award. I went in with high expectations for myself, but I never thought I’d get something like this my freshman season.”
McFerran led the team with 31 wins, combining singles and doubles. In high school, players are one or the other each match, but in college most of the time they play both.
“You start out by playing doubles first,” said McFerran. “You play eight-point pro sets. Then you go into singles.”
That takes some physical preparation. During one spring stretch she played four matches in one day.
“We get a lot of sleep,” she said. “We eat right and we work out three times a week for a couple of hours a day. We have a fitness coach.”
She played up and down the lineup, seeing time at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles and singles. “We didn’t really have a set lineup,” said McFerran. “We’d look at the other team’s lineup and decide where we could be most effective.”
The different spots in the lineup often meant playing women of differing abilities and styles.
“I had one three-and-a-half-hour match where the other girl was just very good at getting everything back,” said McFerran. “Most of the time in singles, one through three, you get a lot of girls who hit the ball hard. But it is very different from high school. I knew it would be very challenging, but it was a very big jump.”
But that jump was accomplished and obviously made a big impression on the coach.
“She is a great athlete and a true competitor,” said Mican. “Her heart and determination are her No. 1 asset. Her will to win is unsurpassed.”
Always an extremely good student, McFerran has been able to balance studies and athletics even during a demanding spring season.
“If I’m busy, I can get the work done,” she said. “You have to make good use of time. Sometimes we would practice until 10 (p.m.), so I would go to the library early and get my work done before practice.”
She has a workout routine and a diet for the summer as well as a busy tennis schedule. But there is one competition that stands out.
“One of my friends on the team is from Canada,” said McFerran. “So I am going to go up there and play in a tournament in Manitoba. I will enjoy that.”
This past season the top of the Knights’ lineup is full of freshmen and a sophomore, so the heart of that group will remain intact for a few more years. “Our team is very close,” said McFerran. “We are even close with the boys team. We really enjoy each other’s company.”
Her parents, Chip and Cindy, are credited by coach Mican as playing a big role in aiding the team’s success. He said they provided “unwavering support of both the men’s and women’s program.”