As soon as the interview started, it was obvious to see that Athena was a born winner. Her steely determination and willingness to succeed shone through incessantly, allowing there to be no illusion that the Tennis Club have well and truly struck gold. Her ability has been raising eyebrows throughout the AU despite only joining the University this year, providing a promising omen for one of Exeter’s most exciting sporting protégé’s.
Here, we discuss where it all began, how she stays concentrated and what she hopes to achieve during her time in the South West.
Full name – Athena Nathalia
Course and Year – Psychology with Sport and Exercise Science, Year 2
Birthplace – Indonesia
Sport – Tennis
- Junior World Ranking of 345
- Grade 2 British Tour Semi- Finalist
- Prestigious Sport Scholar holder
When did you start tennis and what were your earliest memories of the sport?
When I was 7 I used to watch my dad play all the time. It looked like something I’d enjoy, so I became tempted and never looked back! It was obvious to me that this would be my sport.
What made you choose tennis over another sport?
I find tennis to be a very unique game. The individuality of the game makes the physical and mental aspects very challenging. You’re all on your own so it’s not easy, but that’s what I enjoy about it!
Within tennis, who was your role model growing up and who is your idol at the moment?
Despite being a girl, I couldn’t look past Roger Federer as my role model when growing up. Even now I still look up to him! The way he conducts himself on and off the court should be emulated by all athletes. On the female side I always admired Justine Henin and of course Serena Williams – she may be old but she’s still the best!
What has been your greatest high and biggest low so far in your career?
With all the pressures of playing tennis and studying simultaneously, I’d have to say that balancing these during High School was my biggest high. I went to High School in Australia and managed to achieve a national ranking of 69 whilst still achieving good grades, so that was most pleasing. In terms of lows, I unfortunately didn’t quite make the American College for Tennis, but coming here instead was no step backwards! It’s a great university, now in the top 100 in the world so I’m happy.
How do you manage to balance your tennis, studies and the social aspect of university successfully?
It’s essential that I get my priorities right. I always do my tennis first thing in the morning before I study to stop distractions. It’s tougher than I thought but I’ve got used to it. My social life in university has always taken a back step – my first year in University was in Swansea and my social life was sacrificed for sure. I’m fairly outgoing, but tennis and studying are much more important for me.
Women’s tennis receives fairly equal coverage to men, but what can other sports learn from tennis to make this the case for all disciplines?
Female football seems to be learning well from tennis. Undoubtedly the female players are under rated and in an ideal world should be making as much money as men. Unfortunately it’s up to the FIFA president to try and raise their profile more because I’m not sure! The media definitely have a huge role to play, as do sponsorships. These two ingredients will make other sports similar tennis in terms of equal male/female popularity.
So what’s next for Athenia Nathalia?
Well hopefully our tennis team can win BUCS this season – that’s the main objective. I’m also working very hard to achieve a 2:1 or a first in my degree. Achieving these will make me very happy indeed.
And what’s your long term goal?
I’ve always hoped to have my own academy/company for either tennis or psychology. To have the privilege of working whenever I want is the long term dream so hopefully this can become reality!
What advice would you give to any students who have never played tennis before, but would like to try?
I would 100% encourage all types of people to try it if they want to. You should never stress too much when playing tennis as it makes learning the sport very difficult, so the focus should always be on enjoyment and the rest will follow. Bring your friends, play hard and have fun!