Growing up, freshman Emily Hallewell of women’s tennis almost never picked up a racket. If not for feeling burnt out, Hallewell could very well be playing on the soccer pitch on a daily basis instead of on the tennis courts, because soccer was her first love. But finally, at age thirteen, she gave tennis a shot, participating in a youth summer camp.
Her skills steadily progressed. In high school, Hallewell won three Independent School League (ISL) individual and team championships and was named as a Washington Post Honorable Mention. For the United States Tennis Association (USTA), she was ranked number one in the DC area and number eight in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Nationally, Hallewell’s highest ranking was in the low 200s.
When the time came to choose a college, Hallewell had many options. Academically noted Division I schools pursued her, such as Georgetown University and George Washington University. However, Hallewell was not interested in playing for a Division I school. “The coaches were so intense and the commitment was too much,” she explained. “There is essentially no life outside of tennis and I did not want that. I want to use college as a chance to grow academically, intellectually and athletically.”
Hallewell also looked at other high-academic Division III institutions, including all of the New England Small College Athletic Conference. “I really liked the campus and the small class sizes; how the professors were a part of the community and not as a separate entity. That’s really what sold me. The community feel of the entire campus is incredible.” Now that Hallewell is part of the Vassar College women’s tennis team, her teammates are impressed with her performance thus far. “Emily was our highest ranked recruit coming into this year,” senior captain Lindsay Kantor in an emailed statement. “ [She] has certainly proven herself on the court, especially with her recent success at the New York State Championships.”
Thus far collegiately, Hallewell has been named Liberty League Rookie of the Week three times (9/23, 9/30, 10/14), has a record of 8-4 in both singles and doubles, and recently won her bracket at the New York State Tennis Championships hosted by Ithaca College during this fall season.
Despite attaining so much success so early in her collegiate athletic career, Hallewell says the part she enjoys the most is being part of a team. “I like the team aspect; USTA was all individual and I traveled with my parents,” Hallwell explained. “Now I travel with a team and it is a lot of fun. I love the team, and couldn’t ask for better teammates.”
Kantor has been impressed with Hallewell’s incorporation into the team, and wrote that, “[She] is an extremely kind, caring, and genuine person. She is a great friend and teammate.” As for the overall team chemistry, Hallewell noted that, “There are only eight of us, seven underclassmen consisting of four freshman and three sophomores. It makes it even easier to be such a tight-knit group, since we are all pretty much either new to campus or have been here for only one year, which is cool and adds a different youthful dynamic.”
Hallewell further noted that the spring season is more important than the fall season and that there remains a lot of work to be done. “The season is going a lot better than I expected, everyone can compete with one another. There are high level practices that keep me motivated every day,” Hallewell said.
She also added, “I didn’t know what to expect coming from high school where I was relatively unchallenged to college, but it is so competitive. My teammates are all really good and skilled; we have a really good team. I’m so excited for what the future has in store.”
In an emailed statement, Kantor added, “I feel that Emily has handled her success extremely well. She is very humble, as was the case after her New York State Championship win. She just came off the court with a big smile on her face.” As for Hallewell’s playing style, Kantor explained that, “[She] is a tenacious player. She has a big serve and plays a really smart game.”
Outside of tennis, Hallewell is undeclared and not certain at this moment what particular subjects interest her. She enjoys the arts and ceramics and the color and the studio art class that she is currently enrolled in. Hallewell loves the beautiful campus of Vassar College. “I love the green space here. Coming from a city, this (living in New York, at Vassar College) is very different. I love how you can walk around without people being everywhere and its proximity to New York City,” she said.
Overall, coming into Vassar Hallewell had many expectations of Vassar. She reiterated how the college has not disappointed her: “I have loved all aspects so far: academically, athletically, and socially. I could not be happier with all Vassar has to offer.” She realizes that accomplishing all her goals while at Vassar will not be easy and looks forward to sustained success. “I hope to build on this early success,” she noted. “I have really enjoyed Vassar so far, and I look forward to making many memories with my teammates.”