NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb women’s tennis coach Jamie Aid continues to span the globe looking for players.
She has added a pair of international players for the 2015-2016 season. Katerina Kandyba is from Kharkiv, Ukraine. Thabile Tshatedi is from Zimbabwe, but is living in Cape Town, South Africa.
“We reached out to Kate around the time of the Atlantic Sun Tournament in May,” Aid said. “She was still looking at universities and really had not found a good fit.
“One of the things I think is a common theme with all of our girls is finding a school that demands a lot tennis-wise and demands a lot in the classroom. Those are the girls who are really drawn to Lipscomb. Kate wanted both.”
Kandyba will definitely be the youngest player in the history of the women’s tennis program. She will enter the school year as a 16-year-old. She will celebrate her 17th birthday in November.
“Katerina is a hard worker,” Aid said. “In the Ukraine you complete high school in three years. She is a good student. The Ukrainian school system is challenging.”
When Kandyba arrives in August it will be her first visit to the United States. Aid thinks that Kandyba is like many female athletes who search for a school with a family-type atmosphere.
“Lipscomb has done a good job of being a community,” Aid said. “These girls really like the family aspect. We are selling the family atmosphere here and the career-mentoring which is unique to our program. Katerina thinks the mentoring program is great.”
Kandyba and Tshatedi are in the same mold as Lipscomb players Laura Kent from Australia and Hannah Gamage from England.
“We are looking at girls who are powerful hitters who have weapons,” Aid said. “At this level it is very hard to develop weapons. You either have weapons at this level or you don’t. It is better to have a girl with weapons and develop consistency around those weapons.
“When you look at Katerina and Thabile they are both powerful hitters like Hannah and Laura. Both Hannah and Laura have made the All-Freshman team in the Atlantic Sun. Hannah played No. 1 for us last year as a freshman and Laura was 14-1 at No. 3.
Kandyba is a 6-foot, left-handed player. She is known for her ability to move well and for her athleticism.
“When you throw in that Katerina is a lefty she is going to give opponents problems,” Aid. “She should grow well within our system. She is going to get better each year.
“We are asking girls to come in and buy into our process of working hard and buying into the process of becoming a better tennis player. I think they will both come in and buy into the process. We expect them to have a direct impact.”
Aid is looking for the newcomers to help build on the foundation and add to the tradition of winning.
“All eight of our girls are equal,” Aid said. “We need eight leaders. This is a group that gets to create a tradition. That is something you get to do once. They all need to be willing to work hard and build something special.
“We have a great foundation. But the tradition of being competitive in the A-Sun year after year and winning championships is something this group can do.”
Tshatedi has spent time in Florida attending the IMG Academy Bolletteri Tennis Program.
“She decided then her dream would be to come back to the United States and play tennis in college, “Aid said. “That was her mission.
“She was late on the radar. She didn’t get a video up until early May. She came across our boards late and happened to be a really good fit for our program. We were able to work it out where she could be here in the fall.”
Tshatedi is a little less than six feet in height, but she is also a very powerful hitter.
“Thabile loves the Christian aspect of the school,” Aid said. “She wanted to attend a school that had that. She has ambitions of possibly playing tennis after college.
“She has two cousins who played at Furman and SMU. So it is not a new system for her. “She has heard of college tennis and knows what it is about.
Aid expects Tshatedi to be a trendsetter in helping build a consistent winning tradition.
“When you speak to her she is very relationship-oriented,” Aid said. “She is very out-going.
“She will help build the tradition here. She is a big power player with big strokes. She has the ability to come into the net. She has a solid net game. She will be an all-court player with a big forehand. ”
She also views Tshatedi as a key addition on the doubles side of competition.
“Thabile seems to have a desire to be a really good doubles player which we love because the doubles point is so big for us,” Aid said. “She will bring some good doubles knowledge to the group.
“We have two successful doubles teams coming back. Adding two new players with the height to really cover the net will make us dynamic in doubles. Winning the doubles point makes the singles matches so much easier.”