Gateway grad Memije expecting big year with Michigan State tennis team
Gateway graduate Samantha “Sammie” Memije steadily has climbed to the top of the Michigan State women’s tennis team.
Memije, a senior, is in her second season playing first singles for the Spartans.
“Sammie’s freshman year, she was in and out of the lineup,” Michigan State coach Kim Bruno said. “Her sophomore year she dominated the six spot and her junior year, she found ways to be successful as our No. 1 player.
“This is not because our team is getting weaker. She has made such strides because of her hard work, mental toughness, coachability and resilience, which (have) allowed her to become one of the best players in the Big Ten.”
Memije finished last season with a 13-12 singles record. She went 11-8 in the spring, including 7-7 at first singles.
She posted an 18-11 overall record in doubles, tying for the most doubles wins on the team.
Memije, 21, said her goal is to become ranked as a singles player and qualify for the NCAA singles tournament.
“Making the NCAA tournament as a team for the first time in school history is clearly something my team and I want to achieve,” Memije said. “We have a unique group of individuals this year (who) each bring something different to the table.
“I truly believe we can accomplish that feat. That would definitely be a memorable way to end my college career.”
The Spartans (15-11, 6-5) placed seventh in the Big Ten last season. They lost in the first round of the conference tournament to Purdue.
Bruno said the team’s success rests on Memije’s shoulders.
“I expect Sammie to not only lead our team on court, but to take up the main role as our off-court leader as well,” Bruno said.
Memije, an Academic All-Big Ten selection and a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honoree, plans to attend graduate school for speech-language pathology.
She hopes to continue with tennis in some form.
“I love the game,” said Memije, Pennsylvania’s top-ranked player in the 2016 high school class. “I’ve been playing tennis almost everyday since I was 8 years old.
“I couldn’t imagine my life without tennis.”
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.