Through hard work and perseverance, senior Emily Fanning left the picturesque farmlands of Timaru, New Zealand to pursue her tennis career in the United States where she now plays for UK.
Fanning began playing tennis at the young age of four. Years later in primary school, a coach noticed Fanning’s athletic talent which ignited her ongoing tennis career.
“New Zealand is really big on sports. At home we had a bunch of tennis balls and racquets, which I played around with to pass the time,” Fanning said.
Fanning reached numerous accomplishments throughout her junior career such as receiving New Zealand Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012, and playing in four major junior U.S. Open tournaments.
“I felt very luck to play in the junior tournaments,” Fanning said. “The experience of being around the pros was really awesome.”
Fanning went on to play at Florida State University for two years before transferring to UK. Now, Fanning is completing her bachelor’s degree in dietetics and nutrition as she plays for the UK Women’s Tennis program.
Fanning described how welcomed she felt when arriving at UK. “People are so friendly, here. For example, as an international student, so many people invited me to their house for Thanksgiving. The team is really warm and inviting,” Fanning said.
When asked about her major takeaways from living abroad, Fanning lit up with expression. “The biggest thing was growing up and maturing,” Fanning said. ”I’m here by myself and my family is a long way away, so I learned to make my own decisions and deal with my own matters. It’s been such a great experience for me.”
To students considering to study abroad and take their athletic career overseas, Fanning strongly encourages them to “go and do it.” “It’s scary, but you learn so much,” Fanning said. “Also, it helps you gain confidence and sets you up really well for life. It’s worth it.”
Once Fanning graduates, she will move back to Florida to play professional tennis. After finishing her tennis career, she hopes to move back to New Zealand or Australia and enter medicine or become a sports dietitian for top level athletes.