Ines Stephani is an incoming first-year and women’s tennis player at Drake University. From Wanaka, New Zealand, Stephani started playing tennis at the age of six. Prior to committing to tennis, she also participated in volleyball, basketball and hockey.
Stephani has always preferred tennis because her family has been “super supportive and pushed her to keep playing,” leading to numerous accomplishments within the sport. She made it to the fifth doubles finals in grade level four Junior International Tennis Federation (ITF) events, as well as the singles finals of grade level five ITF.
In 2016, Stephani was chosen over seven other top tennis players from the 14 and under age group to represent New Zealand at the Australian National Championships. She won the doubles at a New Zealand national event in 2019, and in 2020 she reached the singles semifinals at the same event.
Stephani became interested in playing college tennis around the age of 12, after meeting with a group of collegiate players from Berkley.
“They made it sound like a really cool experience…I’m so happy to be here and can’t wait to start competing with my team”
Stephani is joining the team in the spring instead of the fall because school schedules are set up differently in New Zealand–the academic year begins in February and ends in December. This will be her first time in America, and she is looking forward to meeting new people from all over the world. She was drawn to Drake for its great academics, along with the cold winters and beautiful campus. She plans to major in international business and hopes to learn Spanish.
Stephani reached out to Head Coach Mai-ly Tran because of her interest in learning more about Drake University. At home in New Zealand, Stephani studied privately with a coach, making the prospect of playing with a team very appealing.
“I’m very grateful that she gave me the opportunity to talk to her,” Stephani said. “I am looking forward to being a part of a supportive team.”
Coach Tran is equally enthusiastic.
“We are really excited to have Ines join us this spring,” said Tran. “She comes at a great time with our team coming back together after a long break and adds a lot of depth to our team. She has tremendous potential, and we can’t wait to watch her compete for the Bulldogs very soon.”