Throughout the past four years, the SUNY New Paltz tennis team has been witness to a duo of great Hawks. Fourth-year co-Captains Jessica Schmidt and Devin Tracy will not be returning to the team next season upon graduation, but they have certainly left their mark on the program.
“Both players have been very coachable, eager to learn how to improve their game and ultimately to improve our program,” Head Coach Rob Bruley said. “Both have put the team before their individual accomplishments. Two of the most committed athletes I have had on the program, both have been a pleasure to coach and have really bought into New Paltz tennis.”
Bruley also noted that Schmidt and Tracy were the team’s number one doubles team this season, an asset that led the Hawks to a 12-7 record throughout the fall and spring seasons this year. The Hawks made it all the way to the SUNYAC Finals during the fall season, but lost to the SUNY Geneseo Knights by a score of 5-0 on Sunday, Oct. 12. This marked the fourth straight season that the Hawks lost to Geneseo in the SUNYAC Finals.
The Hawks have always had a tough rivalry with the Knights. The Knights often came out on top, but Schmidt noted an instance where the Hawks were victorious as her favorite moment at New Paltz.
“I am proud of the moment when my partner and I won our doubles match in the championship against Geneseo my junior year,” Schmidt said. “We had lost to the same doubles team in the regular season match in a tiebreaker and we wanted to go back and avenge our loss. We knew how important that match was and it felt so good to come back and win.”
Tennis has been a part of Schmidt’s family for generations. She noted that her father and her aunts loved to play tennis when they were younger, and one of her aunts even played competitively when she was an adult. This love for tennis has carried over to Schmidt and her sisters.
“My older sister also played [tennis] in college, so I think that had an impact on me deciding to play in college,” she said. “My younger sister is on her high school varsity team and still has time to decide if she wants to play in college or not.”
Along with her family, Schmidt had a few role models that influenced her decision to pursue tennis from such a young age. She explained how she would attend the US Open every year and has fond memories of watching Lindsay Davenport play. However, Kim Clijsters is her all-time favorite player. Clijsters won four grand slams throughout her career, three of them came after Clijsters had a daughter, which Schmidt considers to be inspiring.
“When [Clijsters] retired, so she could start a family, she only had won one Grand Slam title,” Schmidt said. “After having her daughter she decided to come back to tennis. Her first grand slam tournament that she played in when she came back, she won. She was just a class act of a player.”
Currently, Schmidt is a big fan of Novak Djokovic. She loves how talented he is and how he makes the sport of tennis look so effortless.
When she first came to New Paltz, Schmidt was at the bottom of both the doubles lineup and the singles lineup. But it wasn’t long until she was starting in the doubles lineup, and occasionally being a part of the singles lineup as well.
The All-SUNYAC Doubles Second Team member tallied a record of 9-9 in doubles matches this season, and also went 7-9 in singles matches.
Tracy, Schmidt’s doubles partner this season, was also named to the All-SUNYAC Doubles Second team as she finished with a record of 11-10 in doubles matches this season.
While Schmidt’s role models were famous players who she saw play when she was little, Tracy cited a role model who she has a more personal relationship with.
“My tennis role model is my tennis trainer Amiee Crasira,” she said. “She has been my trainer since my freshman year of high school. She has made me the player and person I am today. Her way of thinking and determination to be the best has rubbed off on me. She has been a great role model on and off the court.”
Tracy also started playing tennis thanks to her family. Her parents signed her up for a country club when she was 9 years old and she hasn’t stopped playing since. Tracy also has an older brother, who played tennis but stopped playing while he was in middle school.
Her favorite moment at New Paltz was also a victory against Geneseo, when the Hawks defeated the Knights by a score of 5-4 on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. The Hawks have not defeated Geneseo since this victory.
Tracy also had a lot of praise for her doubles partner.
“Jess is a very smart player,” she said. “She analyzes what our opponent’s strengths and weakness are and what our game plan should be.”
Likewise, Schmidt had plenty of positive things to say about Tracy.
“Devin is one of the most likable people you will meet,” she said. “She is a very positive and upbeat person and that is exactly who you would want as a doubles partner and teammate. She makes a great leader.”
But Bruley had the most praise for both of his players, and he will certainly miss them come next season.
“[I will miss] their loyalty and commitment to the program,” he said. “They both have been a great example of what it takes and what it means to be a student athlete at SUNY New Paltz.”