Seton Hall’s Luize Strike was named Big East Women’s Tennis Player of the Week following two Pirates wins over NJIT and Fairfield on Feb. 5 and Feb. 6, respectively.
Strike dominated both the singles and doubles lineup in the two matches without losing a single set in either. The award is the first career honor for Strike, and the Hall has now had at least one player take home weekly accolades in each of the last three seasons. The last one for SHU was Strike’s doubles partner, senior Hannah Liljekvist.
The sophomore credited her coaches and teammates for helping her get to where she is at this point in both the season and her career.
“It’s not the work you can achieve in a few weeks; it’s the work you have put in your whole life,” Strike said. “I used to think I wasn’t good enough and couldn’t play the way college girls can, but the coaches started working with me both mentally and physically and it helped me become better.”
Strike has been playing tennis practically her whole life. She began at age four in her home country of Latvia. She was able to use her childhood experiences and lean on her family to propel herself to the next level.
“I was going with my mom to her practices and started to pick up the balls and play there,” she said. “She later told me I had to pick a sport to play or else I would be taking ballet – and I hated ballet. So, I decided to start playing tennis.”
While it became increasingly difficult for her as the years went on, Strike’s family convinced her to keep playing, which ultimately led her to Seton Hall.
“Junior leagues were tough. However I wasn’t going to quit and wanted to keep playing after high school,” she said.
“My dad was an athlete at the University of Florida, so he gave me the idea of going to play in the States. I wanted to go somewhere else to explore the world more, and when I came here I realized how good it is here.”
Now in her second season, Strike has thrived following her ascension to the No. 1 spring singles spot.
She has four wins in four outings, including three consecutive straight-set triumphs in the team’s past three victories in singles play. In doubles play, she and Liljekvist have been leading the way from the first doubles position.
Seton Hall has prevailed in nine of ten doubles matches during its last four outings, leading Strike to her Player of the Week award.
For Strike, the accolade was accepted with great pride and a sense of accomplishment.
“I’ve never felt so good since I came here because it is such a big honor,” she said. “It’s still early in the season, though, so I use this as motivation for me so I can go farther and achieve more.”
Strike and the Pirates will look to continue their strong start to the spring this Sunday against Quinnipiac in New Providence, New Jersey, at 12 p.m.
Matt Lamb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.