Just two years ago, Sarah Dev flew almost 7,500 miles from her home in Chandigarh, India, to pursue a future as a collegiate tennis player here at Miami University.
Now, the sophomore organizational leadership major is blazing a new path for herself in the U.S. and has nothing but positive things to say about her experience so far.
The first time Dev picked up a racket was when she was 3 years old. From the moment she saw her older brother playing tennis, she was hooked. With the help of her father’s fitness training and her brother’s guidance on the court, Dev’s skill quickly accelerated, and she landed a spot at Harvest Tennis Academy (HTA) in Jassowal, India.
While training at HTA, she competed as a junior for the International Tennis Federation (ITF) where she traveled to play in different countries and was ranked No. 278 in the world.
After contemplating plans for her future, Dev knew collegiate tennis was the best route for her. Being so far from home was challenging at first, but was something she was able to adapt to.
“The starting three months I was missing home … and it was a little hard,” Dev said. “But after six months I started loving it.”
Friends, teammates and coaches helped ease her transition. It was not until this most recent winter break that she was able to fly back home to India to visit her family after not seeing them for a year and a half.
Dev described the moment she saw her family for the first time at the airport as tear-filled and emotional. As much as she enjoyed being home, she couldn’t help but count down the days until she was back at Miami and reunited with the team.
“Even when I went home, I went only for 20 days and then after 15 days I was like, ‘I want to go back,’ because I feel like I live here and I love it here,” Dev said.
She is only one of many on the team who face this similar issue. Of the 10 girls on the roster for this season, only two are from the U.S. Despite being from different parts of the world, their cultural differences have actually been a uniting factor to team chemistry.
“Because we are international, we can connect to each other more because we are facing similar problems about everything so it’s very easy to connect,” Dev said. “Since we’ve been here we got together very easily and everybody looks out for each other which is nice.”
Head coach Ricardo Rosas said Dev is a supportive teammate.
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“Sarah is just kind-hearted,” Rosas said. “I think everyone loves her. She’s just always there for everybody so it’s just good to see. I mean, she gets along very well with everybody.”
Her ability to take initiative on and off the court as well as her constant desire to get better does not go unnoticed by the coaching staff.
“That is one quality that I like about her,” Rosas said. “She will come and talk to you and find ways to improve in some areas or find things to do better.”
The RedHawks, who have an overall record of 10-12 and a conference mark of 4-4, are battling their way towards the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship match. Right now, they balance on the edge of qualifying. Dev highlighted their conference win last year as one of her favorite memories at Miami, so she’s ready to go back.
Makensie Long, a Cincinnati native, also looks forward to another return to the championship, as she closes out her sophomore year. Recently, Long and Dev have been playing as doubles partners, and Long values the different strengths that Dev can bring to the team as they prepare for the tournament.
“She’s really good at communicating with everyone,” Long said. “Whenever I think of Sarah Dev, she always makes everyone smile. She always makes everyone laugh. She makes sure everyone is having a good time.”
Not only has Dev been recognized for her vocal leadership roles, but she was also just awarded Miami’s Senior Service Leadership Award for intellectual and cultural leadership on campus. The award is only received by 10% of students here.
Dev’s hard work will continue to serve her well after graduation. In the future, she plans on getting her masters degree and playing in a few professional tournaments. She has found joy and success in her time here and anticipates staying in the U.S. and getting a job as an assistant tennis coach.
But before that happens, Dev focuses on her next match against Northern Illinois University on April 21. With only two games left in the regular season every point counts.