By Wesley Wilcox | firstname.lastname@example.org
For English tennis player Kelly Burge, the move from the United Kingdom to the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga., turned out to be a big culture shock. Since transferring to Flagler, Burge said she has fallen in love with the Nation’s Oldest City and is thrilled to hit the courts for her new colors.
“When I first arrived in Tifton, I looked out the window and genuinely started crying,” said the Woking, England native. “Like I was shocked. I cried every day because I was in cultural shock.”
Although she holds Abaraham Baldwin’s tennis program in high regards, she said she is adapting well to playing at Flagler.
“I loved my coach, but he struggled being alone between two teams,” she said. “The practices weren’t that tough. Then I come (to St. Augustine) and the practices were harder.”
The Peach Belt Conference consists of many powerhouse institutions such as Armstrong Atlantic who has yet to be knocked off there thrown as the top team in the conference for the last nine years. When asked about how she will fare in the difficult conference, Kelly just smiled.
“I know its gonna be tough, but I am physically and mentally better prepared going into a season than I have been before,” she said. “More confident in my game.”
Some may think she is extremely confident for someone who hasn’t played a match yet at Flagler, but the team was extended an invite to play at Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Burge did not disappoint in her debut. She won every match played at the invite.
When asked about the underlying differences were between Tifton and St. Augustine, she didn’t hesitate to express her love for the Nation’s Oldest City.
“There was a massive difference between Tifton and St. Augustine,” she said. “Tifton, everyone knew everyone, but St. Augustine has so many different people from different states. There is so much more to do in St. Augustine.”
The 2014 season for the Flagler Women’s Tennis team saw the Saints reach the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, and qualified for the NCAA Tournament under Thomas Hipp and Rodrigo Puebla’s first season. This season new faces have joined the squad, which looks to capitalize on last year’s heartbreaking loss in the Regional Final to eventual National Champion Armstrong State. Flagler is looking to a transfer like Burge to help lift the Saints this season, and her attitude toward the season fits with what her coach wants to see.
“I’ve come here to help the team, to get them as far as we possibly can,” she said. “I know we are only a month in, but I can tell physically I am going to be able to help the team out.”