By Eugenio Torrens
In a small room at Zephyrhills High, surrounded by family, friends, administration and reporters, Sarah Vande Berg’s middle school dream was realized.
Vande Berg’s goal of playing tennis in college became official on April 11 when Vande Berg signed a letter of intent to play at South Carolina Upstate.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day forever,” she said.
The Bulldog started her college pursuit by posting a video of her to a recruiting website.
She received a call from a coach at South Carolina Upstate and after a quick game of phone tag, an official visit was set up.
“I went up there and I loved the school,” Vande Berg said. “He made an offer and I waited a couple of weeks to see if that’s really what I wanted to do and decided that it was. So I called him and verbally committed.”
She cited a welcoming atmosphere, both with the campus and the tennis team.
“I was only up there two days for my official visit, but I already felt so close to (the team),” Vande Berg said.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Vande Berg will be the weather.
“She’s pretty warm blooded,” said her father, Todd Vande Berg, when Sarah was asked if she was ready for the climate change.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Vande Berg said with a smile.
The decision also came before the Class 3A state tournament, where Vande Berg is competing in No. 1 singles after defending her district title.
“She’s just been my rock on the team, and we’re really going to miss her,” said Zephryhills girls coach Lorraine Hinkle. “I don’t know if there’s really anything I could say that she’s going to have a hard time with. Maybe just being away from home, dealing with that. But I think if the school’s like she’s saying it is, I think she’s going to do fine.”
With the state tournament the final frontier in Vande Berg’s high school tennis career, she is ready to end it and continue living her dream.
“I’m so excited,” Vande Berg said. “It’ll be a new experience. I’m just so excited, I don’t know how else to put it.”
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