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May 9, 2001

CHARLOTTESVILLE – Student Athlete-of-the-Month showcases an athlete who has demonstrated excellence both on the playing field and in the classroom. The May Student Athlete-of-the-Month, third year Amy O’Donnell, has displayed a strong work ethic in her academic and athletic endeavors. Amy is a government major and plans to graduate in May 2002. The New Jersey native devotes most of her time to tennis, but loves to spend time with her teammates and friends away from the court. Amy will be leading the Virginia women’s tennis team into the NCAA Tournament this week.

Q: When did you start playing tennis?

A: I started when I was five because my two older sisters both played, and then I just started hitting against the backboard because I wanted to play. At first my parents wouldn’t let me play because I was too young. After that, since I played on my own so much, they started giving me lessons.

Q: Who has been influential in the development of your game?

A: I’ve had lots of different types of coaches. My coach from home and my college coach are very different, and they’ve both helped me a lot in different ways. My coach at UVa (Phil Rogers) is really good at helping me with the mental aspect [of the game]. It’s hard being in college and playing tennis with the travel and everything, and he helps me a lot in dealing with all of that. My coach at home focused more on the structural aspects [of the game].

Q: What do you like to do when you have some time away from tennis?

A: Well, I don’t have a whole lot of time away but when I do I like to spend it just hanging out with my friends, maybe watching some movies.

Q: What’s your major, and why did you choose it?

A: I’m a government major, but when I came to school I had no idea what I wanted to study. I took American Politics 101, and really liked it and my other government classes. My dad also got me into politics when I was young. He was a government major, too.

Q: Do you have a favorite professor?

A: I really like Larry Sabato, the Politics 101 teacher. That was my first government experience in college, and he taught it very well and knows so much.

Q: Why did you decide to come to UVa?

A: I was being recruited by other schools and UVa was my fourth trip. When I came here, I stayed with my teammate, Kelly Weaver, who I knew from when I was younger. I just knew I loved it here. I canceled my following two recruiting trips after that.

Q: What’s your favorite part about being on the team?

A: Everyone on my team, there’s seven of us, so we’re all close to each other. We definitely get on each other’s nerves because we travel together every weekend, but it’s cool that there are so many different personalities and we somehow work everything out. We’re all really different but we’re all really close. It’s a lot of girls that I may never have met if I wasn’t on the team.

Q: What is the team’s goal heading into the NCAA Tournament?

A: Actually, our goal at the beginning of the season was to make NCAA’s and hopefully win a round. So now we’ve made it and I’ve never been since I’ve been at school. Now we play Kentucky, who’s ranked ahead of us, but I really think we can win. We’re just working really hard to beat them and then we’ll see what happens after that.

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