Born to do it

Competitive sports are a thing of the past when it comes to tennis athlete Rachel Pye. Vigorous, assertive and self-assured, Pye, 19, makes tennis stars Venus and Serena look like yesterday’s champions.

For two years, the Miami native has contributed her impeccable skills to Florida A&M’s women’s tennis team; however, she has been playing the sport for nearly a decade.

Pye said she became immersed in tennis when her father would take her to the tennis courts during her childhood. It was there she discovered her talents.

“At first I didn’t like tennis,” said Pye, a sophomore health science student. “It was too hard and I was dancing at the time, but he wanted me to try something new.”

Pye honed her proficiency throughout her middle school years before getting the chance to showcase her aptitude and dexterity during her days at Miami Northwestern High School. It was there that she gained many awards and accolades. Among those honors were garnering MVP and district champion during all four of her high school years. The county also picked her as the top player for the ‘All Dade’ award.

With a substantial amount of awards and statistics that could rival a professional tennis player, Pye was offered a number of athletic scholarships from such schools as Bethune-Cookman University, Howard University, Emory, North Carolina State and FAMU.

However, when it came to choosing the right school in which to showcase her tennis talents, Pye said she ultimately decided upon FAMU.

“I chose FAMU because it’s the number one HBCU in the nation,” Pye said. “My family members graduated from here and I have a lot of family that lives in Tallahassee…and then there was the scholarship of course.”

Pye said she faced a few challenges getting acclimated to a new school and a new team.

“It was very hard because I’m used to my parents doing everything for me,” Pye said. “I’m a daddy’s girl and I had to learn to be independent.”

To that end, the athlete learned to adjust to her fresh surroundings and perfect her skills for a new audience. With hard work and determination, Pye used her cleverness on the courts and has since attracted a number of admirers – both on and off the team.

Teammate Samaria Bailey, 21, said Pye is undoubtedly an asset.

“She’s dedicated,” said Bailey, a magazine production student from Macon, Ga. “She’s a hard worker. She’s a fighter. I think that Rachel is a leader because when she sees another player slacking on the court, she’ll correct them and make suggestions and that’s what counts.”

Clifford Malivert, a friend of Pye’s and a player on the men’s tennis team, said Pye is definitely a champion.

“Rachel is a competitor and she is extremely talented,” said Malivert, 22, a senior criminal justice student. “She plays the game very well. I had the opportunity to watch Rachel grow up playing the sport and she has really matured on the court.”

So far the women’s tennis team has gotten off to a rather rocky start with eight losses, but Pye said she believes the team can definitely improve.

“I think that we can do a lot better than what we are doing now,” she said. “We have been falling short. We haven’t reached the championships yet, and that’s when we’ll have to step it up.”

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, the tennis player plans on staying at the University to obtain a master’s degree in order to become a physical therapist. Unlike other athletes, Pye said she isn’t exactly expecting career as a professional athlete.

However if the opportunity presents itself, the competitor said she would certainly take it.

“I want to give it a try,” Pye said. “It’s not a dream anymore, but I want to try. If I’m successful then I can make that my career.”

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