By Hannah Duffey
For Luisa Hrda, coming to the United States gave her an opportunity to showcase her talents in a way that was not possible in her home country.
In Germany, only 1.52 million people play tennis, compared to soccer where over 6 million people play in the country.
“In Germany, for example, the soccer players are getting so much more pay or so many more people are playing soccer, and tennis is not as relevant as soccer,” Hrda said.
Her mom played at a professional level, so being on the court was already a part of her life. It would only be a matter of time until it was her time to chase her passion in the United States.
When Hrda decided to dedicate all her time and energy to the sport, it took convincing before her mom agreed to train her.
Hrda knew that coming to the United States to play tennis would give her the exposure and allow her to make a name for herself on a larger platform.
“I feel like here you feel more welcomed. Like they take any sport, they give each person their chance to compete as much as they want to, as high as they want to and I’m happy that I took it,” she said.
After weighing all her options, she and her family decided to send her to the U.S. to obtain her bachelor’s degree, while having an opportunity to play at the collegiate level.
“So, that was one of the reasons I decided to come to the U.S., because in Germany we don’t have this. It’s a great mix of doing your sports and still going to school, which is just impossible in Germany. If I were studying in Germany right now, I probably wouldn’t have time to practice,” she said.
Her career started at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., and after a turn of events she decided to enter the transfer portal.
At this time, she had not played tennis in over 4 months, so there was so much uncertainty and that is when she thought it would be a better decision to go back home to Germany.
Little did she know that when she entered Flagler college, greatness was in her future and her spark to start playing again would come alive.
“I’m super happy to be here and that I was able to get to know all those people, because honestly, I was struggling before I got to play here, like me playing tennis or having fun in the sport and whatsoever,” she said.
From the jump, she was already a power machine and a powerful addition to the team on and off the court.
Her first season with the Saints she had an impressive 20-2 singles record and 10 victories in doubles with partners Lindsay Truscott and Paula Boixader, former Flagler College women’s tennis players.
She has knocked off several top seeds in the conference and was named ITA All-American in singles and doubles in 2022 and PBC Tournament Singles MVP. In April of 2023, she was named PBC Player of The Week.
“I think that Lu from the beginning has set the bar very high, in the sense of achievements not only for Flagler, but for the team and herself, leaving a historic legacy for Flagler and her name very high, and being a very respected player among other teams,” Florencia Massardo Brain, a Flagler College tennis player said.
She quickly built a great relationship with Rodrigo Puebla, head women’s tennis coach and he saw something in her that she did not see in herself at that time.
“My coach gave it back to me, he brought my fun back and I finally had someone who believed in me again,” she said. He picked me up from the hole and he brought me back that’s why I’m where I am now.”
“All those important achievements, push the whole team to be better, and have the desire to break those records thus leading the team to a better level every year,” Massardo Brain said.
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