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April 16, 2015

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Junior Danielle Collins (St. Petersburg, Fla.) is on a five match win streak, and has a 14-4 dual match and 10-2 ACC singles record this spring. Collins won the NCAA singles championship in 2014, but was sidelined last fall with an injury. She recently spoke with about this season, defending her title and her future plans.

Q: After missing the fall season due to injury, how did you prepare yourself this spring?
Danielle Collins: “It took some time and patience. I had to make sure I did the right things to get myself in the best possible shape to get back on the court and to do well in matches. The last couple weeks have been a really good stretch of playing, without having to deal with any illnesses. I still have to deal with some injuries, but that is normal at this point, you just have to push through.”

Q: Do you see yourself improving as the spring season continues?
DC: “I missed so much of the fall season and then had a big setback when I got pneumonia over winter break. I do feel like I am improving, playing smarter tennis and doing some things that I didn’t do last year. I still feel like I am getting in the swing of things as well.”

Q: After you won the NCAA singles championship last spring, how did you stay motivated in the offseason?
DC: “During the summer and school breaks, and any time I am home, I am training at IMG Academy. It is a great resource and I am fortunate to be able to call it my second home. I spent a lot of time there and worked with some great coaches who have helped push me to my limit. It is mostly professional players at IMG, so it is helpful to play with the next level of players. It gives me motivation to keep working hard and get better.”

Q: Do you feel pressure to defend your title?
DC: “I feel a little pressure, but at this point I can only think about the things I can control. I have had a lot of success and I would really like to win again, but we will see how the rest of the season goes. The goal is to keep improving and getting better with each match.”

Q: Without any seniors on this year’s team, do you see yourself as a leader?
DC: “I am not the most vocal leader, but I try to lead by example and do my job on the court, and be a good teammate off the court. Hopefully, I set a good example and my teammates enjoy being around me.”

Q: Do you plan to play professionally after graduation?
DC: “That should be the plan hopefully, if I stay healthy. I would really like to break into the Top 100 rankings.”

Q: What would you like to do once you stop playing tennis?
DC: “I would really like to go into sports reporting. I have grown up around sports my whole life, and I know a lot about other sports besides tennis. I would like to be a sideline reporter for college football, basketball or hockey. I think it would be a fun career.”

Q: Could you be the next great tennis commentator?
DC: “I could see myself working with tennis, but I also think it would be fun to go into another sport. I know so much about tennis, that it might be the easiest for me.”

Q: You mention you know a lot about sports, what are your favorite teams?
DC: “I am from Tampa, Florida, so I am a fan of all the Tampa Bay sports teams. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers didn’t have the best go last season, or the last couple of seasons. I really like the Bucs, Lightning and Rays.”

Q: What are you studying and who have been your favorite professors?
DC: “I’m a media studies major, and I have actually taken a lot of drama classes, and considered double majoring. I really like Denise Stewart. And right now I have a great Spanish professor: Anthony Pasero-O’Malley.”

Q: If you could win one Grand Slam, which one would it be?
DC: “US Open.”

Q: If you had a plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
DC: “Probably Fiji.”

Q: Why should the fans come to the Virginia women’s tennis matches this weekend?
DC: “It’s the Virginia Tech rivalry, and there will be a lot of fight and emotion. And who doesn’t like watching a bunch of girls playing tennis?”

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