Not only has one women’s tennis player been noticed for her hard work and dedication, but also her ambition to be the best.

Rishona Israel-Lewis, freshman tennis player, started playing at a Miami recreational park, not knowing this sport would one day be her life.

“At the time, my mom needed a babysitter; her best friend worked at the park and that’s where it all started,” Israel-Lewis said. “I really liked it. I had my first tournament there and faced my sister in the finals, and from there I got really good.”

Israel-Lewis prepares physically and mentally before a match. She makes decisions with facts, instead of her emotions.

“A good warm up is necessary, a brisk sweat to get the body warm,” Israel-Lewis said. “I go out there and give my very best and most importantly, I find what my opponent doesn’t like.”

Israel-Lewis never feels excluded even though she is the only American player on the team.

“It’s a totally different vibe, the whole team welcomes you,” Israel-Lewis said. “Being in college, playing my favorite sport, surrounded by others who feel the same way and think like me is so rewarding.”

Israel-Lewis is learning how to manage her time as a freshman even after long hours of practice. She can feel overwhelmed at times, but she never lets that stop her.

“Student athletes are tired at the end of the day, but we keep pushing through which makes me feel extraordinary,” Israel-Lewis said.

Israel-Lewis has influencers that inspire her to be great and keep her motivated throughout the year. She is especially influenced by her mother, who was a single parent of four girls after Israel-Lewis turned the age of 3.

“This might be super cliché, but my mom is really strong,” Israel-Lewis said. “I look up to her because of the person that she is, she never quits; I hope to be as strong as her.”

“People compare me to Caroline Wozniacki, Danish tennis player, because all she does is get the ball back from the backboard,” Israel-Lewis said. “She doesn’t have much power, but she always wins. I don’t see the problem with that because she’s No. 1 in the world, on WTA Tour and a billionaire.”

Israel-Lewis enjoys being a Bobcat because she knows the professors care about their students. She especially appreciates the professors because Israel-Lewis was homeschooled for most of her life.

“Aside from being on the team, I really enjoy how professors pay attention to students’ needs,” Israel-Lewis said. “It is very nice to have those kinds of professors who go (above) and beyond to give students additional help.”

Israel-Lewis never lets her opponents see her sweat because she knows she came to win.

“Tennis is a very difficult sport mainly because it is 90 percent mental and sometimes opponents will say nasty things to you to get in your head,” Israel-Lewis said. “No matter what, I keep pushing and fighting because you’re a reflection of your work ethic.”

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