March 27, 2007
Hillary Mintz always wanted to play tennis for a Big Ten school. That dream came true when she got the call from Iowa four years ago. Although she visited a couple other Big Ten schools, she ultimately chose Iowa because she knew it was the right fit for her.
When she stepped on campus for the first time her freshman year, she had no idea what to expect. As far as tennis, she came in with confidence. She was a two-time state singles champion in Pennsylvania. She just wanted to go out and play and show what she could do.
Due to what she had learned through junior tennis, Mintz was able to make a smooth transition to college life on the court. While some players don’t progress from junior to college tennis, she believes that because of college, she’s playing better than ever.
What allowed for the transition on the court, during her freshman year, was the help she received from former Hawkeye coach, Paul Wardlaw. He was able to see the skills in her game and help her develop those areas. Mintz finished the season 18-6 in singles and 13-10 in doubles.
Off-the-court was a different story. At Bensalem High School, she wasn’t pushed academically like she has been at Iowa. College academics was a big wake-up call for her. It took her about two years to get used to used to being a student-athlete.
While she was finally getting used to the academic side during her sophomore year, her tennis career had gone through a major change. After Wardlaw left the program following her freshman year, current Head Coach, Daryl Greenan and Mintz went through an adjustment period. After having such a good year under Wardlaw, she was fearful of what would happen with the new coach.
“Daryl is very different than Wardlaw as far as technical and overall philosophy of life and tennis,” said Mintz.
Rather than just working with players on their skills, Greenan looked at all aspects of the game to improve his players, both physically and mentally.
“We’ve [Mintz and Greenan] never really worked on a lot stroke mechanics. It’s more thinking about what to do in problem situations. Thinking about what to do in winning situations, and just being prepared physically for long matches.”
“We’ve [Mintz and Greenan] never really worked on a lot stroke mechanics,” said Mintz. “It’s more thinking about what to do in problem situations. Thinking about what to do in winning situations, and just being prepared physically for long matches.”
After two seasons under Greenan, Mintz has steadily gone 26-18 in singles and 27-17 in doubles. He always knew that she was a consistent player, but this season he has seen her mature and embrace her role as a leader.
“She’s done a great job stepping up as captain. As the only senior she’s growing into that leadership role,” said Greenan.
Looking back, her time at Iowa has been nothing short of a blur, but Mintz can’t imagine a better place for her. The environment may have been quite a change from her hometown of Bensalem, but she’s happily embraced it.
Tennis has not only allowed her to live in a new environment, but it’s helped her learn about herself and grow as a person. What has helped her do this are the different people she has become friends with during her four years. She could’ve never imagined meeting so many different people from all over the world; people she’ll never forget.
“It’s been a great experience getting out of my little world and seeing a different type of lifestyle,” said Mintz. “It’s not as fast paced and the people are nicer here. It’s been a pleasant environment to live in.”
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