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Friendships keep Pater on the court
By Abby Zylstra
Rachel Pater
Rachel Pater

Rachel Pater began her tennis career in middle school. However, at the beginning, her parents were skeptical about her commitment to the sport.

“Because I was always changing my mind on things I wanted to do [instruments in band, different sports], I played with a wooden racket until my parents realized it was something I really wanted to pursue,” said Pater.

A graduate of South Christian High School (Byron Center, Mich.), Pater stuck with tennis all four years at Calvin and was the only senior on this season’s team. She started playing tennis to stay active and for the thrill of competition; she kept playing because of the friendships on the team.

“My teammates are like a second family to me and have been a huge part of my positive experience at Calvin,” she said.

This season, she posted a 12-8 record at No. 2 singles and a 14-5 record at No. 2 doubles. She was the league runner-up in this spot and was named to the All-MIAA second team for the second straight year. Pater ended her career with a singles record of 42-31 and a doubles record of 50-22.

Pater also served as team captain. As such, she wanted to be a good role model and to keep things light. Too often, she said, the competition gets tough because of limited spots, and people play better if they are having fun.

“I tried to keep things light, just to keep things in perspective,” said Pater. “Sports aren’t life or death, nor should they be our main priority in life. I try to remember that and help remind others.”

Not only was Pater the only senior, but she was also the only left-handed player. It gave her an advantage on the tennis court, she said.

“It throws some people off — especially the spin serve,” said Pater. “My dad used to switch things to my right hand when I was little, but I’m kind of glad I was stubborn and stayed a lefty.”

Amidst her success as a tennis player, Pater also maintained a 3.5 grade point average. She was a member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll and the Dean’s List.

“Sometimes it was tough. I remember people taking out their flashlights on long van trips to try and catch up on homework,” said Pater. “It was definitely doable though.”

Pater graduated in May with a major in secondary education and English. She’s not sure what her future plans are yet, and that’s OK with her.

“I hope I never really have a ‘10-year plan.’ I would love to teach overseas or do general missions work,” said Pater. “Maybe someday I’ll get something published.”