Athlete of the Week: Natassia Ruel

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Written by Trent Strafaci

Nastassia Ruel, a senior international studies major from Minsk, Belarus plans to make tennis a part of the rest of her life.

Ruel had a very impressive high school resume. She had an ITF junior tennis ranking of 188, and she also competed numerous times for her national team. She came to NSU in 2016 after two years at Arkansas. In her first season as a Shark she played a very critical role in the team’s success, where she notched the third best singles record of the 2016 season at 14-4 and 6-2 in the conference. In doubles she was 11-7, and her most notable win of the season was in the South Region No. 10 doubles team of West Florida 8-5 with Klaudia Boczova in the opening round.

 What encouraged you to play tennis?

“My friends were the ones that encouraged me to play tennis. They took me to a tennis club in the small town that I grew up in. I decided to give it a try.  There was no pressure. The first month of playing I won my first match at the club, and from that point on I fell in love with the sport.  I was eight at the time. I started to become motivated to play the sport competitively from that point on.”

Who was the most important person in your tennis career?

I have to say my parents were the biggest influence in my life. They gave me an opportunity. They always encouraged me to play sports but to play something that makes me happy.

What was the biggest challenge you had playing tennis?

“Well, I have to say the biggest challenge had to be me coming back from knee injuries I had. It forced me to quit trying to play professional tennis, which is why I am playing college tennis here. So I can get my education and keep playing tennis. “

Who is your favorite tennis player?

“I actually have two favorite tennis players. I have to say Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer. I was happy that Roger won the Australian Open because it has been so long since he won, and he fought through some adversity like me when he injured his knee last summer.”

What is the biggest accomplishment?

The biggest accomplishment has to be me winning seven singles matches in a row last year. But the most important thing to me is that the team wins and we have a successful season this year.

Photo used with permission by Darren Hendricks

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