Tarun Stars as the New Kid in Town

Nov. 18, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — College life takes some getting used to for most incoming freshmen, but the adjustments are more profound when you’ve been removed from the high school scene for two years.

University of Iowa freshman Aimee Tarun is learning that lesson this semester. Tarun attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., from 2009-11, but after earning all-state honors her sophomore season, she left the brick and mortar confines and completed her education at Laurel Springs, an accredited online private school.

Laurel Springs prides itself on providing a flexible and personalized online education. The University of Iowa is a public institution with more than 31,000 students, and Tarun says the differences have taken some getting used to.

“I miss making my own schedule,” said Tarun, who finished her rookie fall season with a 5-4 mark in both singles and doubles. “In high school I played tennis all day and my school work was done on my own time. Now I have to balance it.”

Tarun didn’t completely commit to tennis until she was 16 years old. Her mother, Helen McSweeney, played collegiately at Yale, so she was introduced to the sport at an early age. But it wasn’t until her high school years that she started taking a serious interest in the game.

“I started playing tournaments when I was 10 or 11 because my mom was really into it,” said Tarun. “I liked tennis, but I wasn’t really winning. I was doing alright and I liked playing, but it was just something I did. I wasn’t fully devoted to it.”

Tarun said when she finally caught the tennis bug she couldn’t shake it. She enrolled at Laurel Springs, spent a lot of time practicing at the College Park Athletic Club, and found herself hitting balls at Northwestern University, where her former club coach had accepted a job with the men’s tennis program.

It was that connection that opened the door to the University of Iowa.

“(Iowa junior) Katie Zordani worked with my coach, so they knew each other and he recommended I consider Iowa,” said Tarun. “I knew I wanted to play in the Big Ten, so I visited and I loved it.”

As a courtesy to her mother, Tarun considered a career in the Ivy League, visiting both Yale and Brown, but in the end she chose an option closer to home.

“My mom wanted me to give every school a chance,” said Tarun, “but she was very supportive of my choice. She always supports me in everything, and now she’ll be at all the matches. It’s just far enough away from home. It’s far, but it’s close.”

Zordani, who has known Tarun for years as close family friends, says the freshman is slowly making a home in Iowa City.

“She’s adjusting pretty well,” said Zordani. “It has been a big change, but she’s getting the hang of stuff. We study together and get our work done, and on the court she’s really improved. There’re still improvements to be made, but she can win some spots for us.”

Tarun says her prep career served her in two ways — she is better prepared her to win at this level, and she has discovered a new love for tennis.

“I know that I’ve put in all the hours the past three years, and I’ve done everything I can to prepare myself for success here,” said Tarun. “I love tennis now. I don’t know what I’d do without it.