After every match, win or lose, senior Hannah James has always done the same thing. She leaves the court, walks the short distance to the locker room, maybe gets some work done by the trainer, and then rejoins her teammates.
However, against UA on Saturday, James will walk off the green courts of Whiteman Tennis Center for the very last time.
After Tuesday’s practice, James sat down with The State Press to talk about her last match as a Sun Devil, her time at ASU and what the past few years have meant to her.
The State Press: You’ve put the last four years of your life into tennis, and now you’re at your last home match. Has that sunk in at all?
HJ: It’s odd thinking that when I came in four years ago. … I was such a baby when I came in, and I still feel really young, even though I’m a senior on the team. It’s just gone by so quick that you still feel really young.
SP: Do you think it’ll eventually hit you?
HJ: I don’t think things ever sink in until like three months after you’re gone and you appreciate everything that happened.
SP: So what was it like when you first came to ASU? Especially for you, because, I mean, you came here all the way from the United Kingdom.
HJ: I remember my first six months were just awful. I know I had a really good tennis semester and stuff, but the transition of learning the American culture was so hard for me. I didn’t understand what anyone said, and no one got my jokes. For me, it was extremely hard.
SP: How hard was it?
HJ: My summer going back home was definitely a summer that was needed. Even though the overall experience of my first semester of college was good. I just think that I’ve totally switched, because when I first came here I was like, ‘I’m never staying here ever again,’ and now I just want to live here.
SP: Well now that you’ve brought it up, you’ve got to give me an example of a bad joke.
HJ: It would be a joke for example from a comedy back home. … If I’d say it to an English person, they’d know instantly the tone of voice I was using, but here people would be like, ‘Don’t get it,’ like it would just be an awkward silence so for me, it was embarrassing for like the first six months! And then I learned never to say that joke again.
SP: Lots of blank stares?
HJ: Oh yeah.
SP: What’s your favorite memory of your time at ASU?
HJ: Does it have to be tennis related or anything?
SP: No, it can be anything.
HJ: For me, I met my boyfriend over two years ago. I mean, there’s been a lot of tennis memories, and there’s been a lot of stuff, but for me I’ve met an extremely solid boyfriend. So, I think that’s made me feel a lot more comfortable here.
SP: How did you guys meet?
HJ: It was around Halloween time I think. I was in the same building as him. They were having a get together, and he invited us over, so I met him through that. Then we started talking more not that was a long time ago, that was in 2010.
SP: What’s your favorite memory of coach Sheila McInerney?
HJ: I wouldn’t say there’s one memory of Sheila. I’d say the overall of consensus that when we win or we beat UCLA and we beat Cal, things like that; the memory of sharing at the dinner table with Sheila and sharing that in with her, that was it, because all she ever wants us to do is play our best. And when we do succeed, she doesn’t portray it right away, but that night you can see how proud she is at the dinner table.
SP: So going back to Saturday, what are your emotions going to be like? Is it going to be any different?
HJ: I’m going to be emotional for sure. I think we need to look back and be proud. I think that’s what makes us a little bit emotional is knowing that when we were 15-16 going into academy, doing all those tournaments when we’re 16-19, coming to college at 18-19 years old.
SP: What are your plans after college? Are you considering going pro?
HJ: I won’t play pro. I still have classes to take in the fall semester, and then I have classes to take in the spring semester with an internship still, so I’m not graduating for another year until next spring. My internship will definitely keep me busy. It’s a very hands-on one with tennis coaching and administrative work and physical therapy work on top.
SP: What are you trying to do with that?
HJ: I’m not sure what my plans are now. I have plans to go to grad school, take a masters or something like that, but I’ll be living in the states for a few more years.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EricSmith_SP