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New MU tennis player enjoying big changes

Sunday, February 8, 2009 | 8:36 p.m. CST; updated 10:07 p.m. CST, Sunday, February 8, 2009
Danielle Day, an MU freshman, returns the ball to a teammate during practice on January 27. She started playing tennis at the age of eight and is originally from Tampa, Fla. Day is majoring in broadcast journalism. Day said she enjoys playing tennis here and her teammates are a part of that reason. "I just really want to do well for the team and myself," she said.

COLUMBIA – Danielle Day, a freshman on the Missouri tennis team, has had more adjusting to do than usual.

Coming from Tampa, Fla., she needs to get used to Missouri winters, and as a freshman she will have to get accustomed to college level classes.

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But for Day, just sitting in a classroom is an adjustment. Day was home-schooled throughout middle school and high school, so being on a campus is unique for her.

“Being in a classroom is a little bit different,” Day said.

Day came to MU this semester because she finished her home schooling early. Of the many adjustments Day has made, playing on a team is one that she said she has most enjoyed. Day played junior tournaments in Florida, but was never on a high school team.

“I like playing on a team better than playing by yourself in junior tennis where you’re pretty much on your own,” Day said.

Jamie Mera, another freshman on the team who came to MU in the fall, trained with Day in Tampa, Fla., from middle school through high school.  Day was a top junior in Florida and Mera made sure coach Blake Starkey was aware of her talent.

When recruiting Day, Starkey said he didn’t even mention tennis in his letters.  Rather, he focused on academics and tried to set MU apart from the other schools recruiting her.

“We put out a lot of stuff about journalism and business,” Starkey said. “We really were pushing our strengths.”

For Day, it worked. While she said she was also recruited by Colorado, San Francisco and Elon, the journalism school at MU was the deciding point.

On the court, Starkey said he expects big things from Day, but he plans to play her at one of the lower singles spots, around five or six, for most of the season.

“She’s young and we’d like to get her going slowly,” he said.

Day said she has no problem starting the season that way.

“I’m happy about playing lower because it’s my first season and I’m younger,” Day said.  “I want to go up, though, during the years.”

She could start moving up quickly, though, given the success she has had recently.

On MU’s first road trip of the season, Day recorded a singles victory at No. 5 over Purdue.  In that same match, she teamed with junior Sofia Ayala to win doubles at No. 3, then won doubles at No. 2 the next day at No. 32-ranked Ohio State.

On Jan. 31, she and Ayala teamed up to win another doubles match at No. 2 over St. Louis University and Day won singles at No. 4 in the same match.

Day’s next chance to add to her win total will come on Valentine’s Day when the Tigers head to Dallas, Texas, to take on Stephen F. Austin and Southern Methodist University.


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