Stephanie Schara: Queen of the Court

Photo courtesy of Brian Savard

Coaches and teammates agree that New Paltz Women’s Tennis member Stephanie Schara went above and beyond her role as captain this season.

“It was never in doubt that Steph would be a captain,” said Women’s Tennis Coach Robert Bruley. “She has great leadership skills both off and on the court, something that is essential when bringing in freshmen and playing on such a high profile team.”

With Schara as team captain this year, the team had a record of 7-2 and a commanding record of 3-0 in SUNYAC play. Schara’s own records were also strong.

This season, Schara and her doubles partner fourth-year Lindsey Garyn, went undefeated with a 9-0 in doubles play while Schara had a record of 5-3 in singles.

Schara has been named to the first and second All SUNYAC Women’s Tennis team in years past and was just recently awarded the prestigious Peter J. Cahill Award for the MVP of Women’s Tennis among the SUNYAC schools. Even with a resume filled with awards, Schara was not certain if she was going to play this season.

“I actually didn’t know if I was going to play,” Schara said when asked what her feelings were when she was awarded the captaincy by Bruley.

Schara said that time management problems coupled with work and school problems led her to this decision. According to Schara, she even sent a five-page letter to each of her teammates highlighting the reasons why she was going to stop playing.

“I was set on not playing-until I got all of their responses. I had no idea how much the girls looked up to me, and how much they wanted me to play, and how much of a relationship I had with each of them,” Schara said. “I had to play…it would have been the biggest regret of my life if I hadn’t played and stepped up as a captain this year.”

Schara’s decision to play and dedication to the game were likely factors in her receiving the MVP award after the SUNYAC playoffs.

“I was so surprised and genuinely honored to represent him and his award…[Coach Bruley] showed me and I was so excited, and proud, and crying. I really tried to be the ultimate leader and player this year, it was really awesome to know that the coaches had seen how hard I worked,” Schara said.

Sharyce Willand, a first-year player on the team said that Schara “definitely” deserved the award.

“She is a strong leader, very inspirational and just an all-around wonderful person. She played a big role in our journey to win SUNYACs,” Willand said.

With the team winning SUNYACs this year, the tennis team has immediately earned a berth in the 2011 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship, and Schara hopes to prepare them by bonding beforehand.

As part of this bonding, Schara said she hopes to host dinners where the team can “hang out and relax.”

“The teams that play at NCAA are all great and there’s no such thing as an easy win,” Schara said. “Depending on the draw, I really think we have a chance at getting through a round or two. Hopefully the team will be a constant threat at NCAAs in the future.”

Schara said that Bruley works hard to bring the best players he can, and that over time he is going to build a stronger program.

As for this season, Schara looks back on it fondly.

“All I wanted from them was to put their hearts and souls into this season. They knew that if they worked as hard as possible and tried their best, as cheesy as it may sound, that was all that mattered to Rob and me,” Schara said.