The game of tennis fell into Amanda Dick’s lap.
“My dad is an electrician,” she said. “When I was five, he was licensed with a company that installed tennis lighting, so he was always around the tennis clubs and he would drag me to them. Finally, he put me in classes because of how much I liked playing around with everyone. I just started having a lot of fun with it.”
The game continued to be just for fun for Dick until she was 10, when it started becoming more serious.
“It got more competitive and I started playing tournaments when I was 12, and that’s how I got into it,” Dick said.
The game fell into Dick’s lap, but playing Division I tennis did not.
“I really didn’t think I had a shot at playing college tennis,” Dick said. “Especially after my freshman year (of high school). I had made it to state, but I didn’t get past the first round. Then my sophomore year I placed fourth in state and started going to camps at (Wisconsin) Whitewater where I talked to the coach a lot. Then I placed third at state my junior year and fourth again my senior year, and sure enough more coaches were interested.”
Dick received offers from Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin-Lacrosse, St. Catherine’s and Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She also looked at Notre Dame and Butler, but decided to come to Drake this year as a freshman walk-on.
“I visited Drake and really liked it and had heard really good things,” Dick said. “We thought about Butler, but I wasn’t thrilled about going to Indianapolis and decided Drake was a really great place.”
Dick’s decision to pursue a college career beginning as a walk-on and not a scholarship player may be what gave her a chance in the first place at Drake with head coach Paul Thomson.
“Her desire to want to play is what caught my eye,” Thomson said. “She’s not nearly as experienced as some of the other girls I would typically recruit, but her desire was there. She blended pretty well with the other girls on the team so I decided to give her a chance to come in and walk on and see how she did.”
And with every walk-on comes the chip on his or her shoulder.
“Amanda reminds me of when I was a freshman because she wants to show not only the coach but the rest of us why she is on the team,” said senior Jessica Aguilera. “She is putting in a lot of effort every practice to prove she is good.”
Despite being a walk-on with the team, it is no dispute that Dick is bringing a contributing factor to the team. On a team with five seniors, Dick is already earning praise from the upperclassmen and her coach in just the third week of the semester.
“The biggest thing she is bringing to the team are good energy and excitement,” Aguilera said. “Physically she is really fast and fit.”
Thomson agreed that Dick brings an edge to the team.
“The freshmen have that energy that they bring,” Thomson said. “Really what I’m working on with Amanda right now is being able to enjoy the game and taking pressure off herself.”
Aguilera also stated that she is trying to help Dick take pressure off of herself.
“We know the transition from high school to college is hard,” Aguilera said. “But we are trying to help her and make her feel good and comfortable on the team.”
Dick will have to work hard to find her niche on the court, but in her eyes she wouldn’t want to do it at any other school.
“I visited the tennis team twice at school last year, and over spring break I saw them in Florida and they were all really nice and we all got along,” Dick said. “Even practices the past two weeks have been great. I definitely believe that I made the right choice by coming to Drake.”