NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Laura Kent had never been to the United States before arriving in Nashville in January.
It was summer in Australia when she left her hometown of Kangaroo Valley for the Lipscomb University campus. The weather in the Music City gave her a chilly reception. But she has quickly found a place at Lipscomb as a vital part of the Lipscomb Lady Bisons tennis team.
Kent, playing in the No. 3 spot on the team, won both of her matches against Tennessee-Martin and Belmont to open the season.
“Laura Kent is a great recruit for us,” Lady Bisons tennis coach Jamie Aid said. “She embodies the type of girl we look for to take the program to the next level.
“Laura is a terrific teammate. She has fit in like she has been here since August.”
Aid isn’t surprised that Kent has been able to contribute to the team so quickly.
“She is a very smart player, as well and a great competitor,” Aid said. “Laura had rankings as high as the top 90 in the women's open in Australia.
“As coaches we are very happy with a freshman starting out 2-0 on the season after being in the states for three weeks. We are excited to have Laura as a part of the Lipscomb community. We look forward to her continued development as we try to take her game to the next level.”
The wonders of technology played a strong role in bringing Kent to Lipscomb.
“I made a video and sent it to coaches,” Kent said. “I also put it on YouTube.
“Coach Jamie contacted me and we talked over the phone. I really liked the sound of the tennis program and the academic program at Lipscomb. Everything coach was saying was what I was looking for in a school.”
In order to give Kent a preview of the campus, Aid gave her a Skype tour.
“I got to see the classrooms and the tennis center,” Kent said. “She showed me the entire campus. It looked like a really pretty place.
“She had me meet with some of the girls through the Internet. When I came here I felt like I knew them already. It was all pretty appealing.”
Kent is making adjustments during her first few weeks in a new country. She thinks the South may be a little too carried away with fried food, especially vegetables prepared in such a manner.
“It was a big change when I got out at the airport,” Kent said. “Everything is sort of a little bit new…a new culture. But everyone around here is pretty friendly and easy to get along with.”
Kent was enticed to the Lipscomb tennis program by the way Aid stressed how she wants the women’s team to climb the ladder to greater heights in terms of success on the court.
“She said the tennis team was trying to build a strong base,” Kent said. “That is something I would like to be a part of. I want to see how far we can go.
“I liked the idea that she got me to contact (volunteer strength and conditioning) coach Jon Flinn right away. I knew the strength and conditioning would be there. That is what I need to work on to be a better player.”
Kent’s family raises beef cattle. Her father, David, is an agricultural teacher as well.
“I want to be a veterinarian,” Kent said. “The science programs at Lipscomb are very strong. Coach Jamie told me they have high expectations in GPA. That will keep me motivated to push myself and do as well as I can.”
The Lady Bisons will be back in action this weekend in Chattanooga. They will play Tennessee-Chattanooga at 4 p.m. Friday and Evansville at 4 p.m. Saturday. Both matches will be held at the indoor facility at The McCallie School.
Kent would like to extend her singles win streak.
“I have been really happy with how I have been hitting the ball,” Kent said. “The first matches were exciting but I was a little bit nervous. I am looking forward to this weekend.”