Finding a Home Across the Pond
April 10, 2006
This year, Indiana's Sarah Batty has advanced from No. 2 singles to No. 1 singles, but that was probably the easiest transition she has made in pursuing her tennis career. The Hoosiers' captain came to the United States from England for good when she was just 14 and attending high school in Florida. After graduating early from Chaminade Madonna two years early, the now-20-year-old senior has been honored as both a student and an athlete during her time in Bloomington. The two-time Academic All-Big honoree majors in sports marketing and management and has also twice been an All-American selection in doubles. Already this season, Batty has earned two Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors for her role in the Hoosiers' 15-5 record on the year, and a 5-1 ledger in conference matches with their only Big Ten loss coming to seven-time defending champion Northwestern.
Batty talked with the Big Ten about life in England versus life in the United States, her sister Jenny's role in her tennis career and a sport called netball.
I played that when I was about seven or eight. You guys call it pee wee tennis here, but we call it short tennis in England. Actually I have an older sister (Jenny, 23) and she started playing first. I used to go pick up balls for her when she'd play and I just got into it, too. My parents said we used to just go out and hit on the wall at home.
Netball is like a version of basketball, but you don't bounce the ball and you can't run with it. Nobody knows about it over here because whenever I tell people about it they have no idea. I guess you could say it's comparable to handball also. I did a lot of different things when I was younger but as I got older I had to choose a little more specifically so I could dedicate my time. I actually danced a lot when I was younger also, in a dance academy. But tennis was always my favorite and I think it has always been my best sport.
We used to vacation in Florida when we were younger, I would say I was about seven. I actually lived in Florida for about three years before I came to Indiana, when I was about 14 through 17. I lived there to play tennis and go to high school at Chaminade Madonna. I only went there for a year though because I was able to graduate two years early. The system in England is so different and you learn more at a younger age, and I was just qualified to skip grades because of that. I also came over for tennis so I could carry on playing at a good level. They do have high school sports in England, but it is a lot different than what you have over here. I played for my school in England but it really wasn't very competitive. It wasn't any big deal at all.
I was just looking all over the United States and wanted to go to a good Division I school, and one that had a good program. I applied all over the U.S. and IU was just one of the places I was talking to. It helped that my sister was at Ball State, which is only two hours away. I mean, that wasn't the main reason for my decision but it definitely helped. The academic program was just there and it seemed like the best fit.
Jenny, who is two years older than you, graduated from Ball State last year. Did you ever compete against each other? Is it strange that you both ended up in the same Midwestern state?
She just did the same as me. We never played singles against each other in college, but our teams played each other a few times. A lot of foreign players come over here to go to college because in Europe there is no way to compete at this level. There is just nothing like this over there in England. Jenny came straight from England (and didn't go to high school in the U.S.). She is actually back there now.
I'm not really sure. I want to stay over here (in the United States) for a while and see how it goes. I would like to stay within the sports industry. I'm a sports marketing and management major. I love all sports pretty much, though soccer, we call it football, is my favorite to watch. You don't get to watch as much of it over here as you do at home because it's not as popular, and in England it's huge. I want to stay in the industry but I'm not too bothered about what I'll be doing.