Cavalier Corner

June 2014

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"I didn't think about the end result too much. I think when you do that sometimes you can get caught up and not focus on what you need to be doing at the moment." Guilbeau marveled at how Collins — who went 21-10 in doubles, mainly with partner Maci Epstein — was able to step right into the program and become one of the team leaders. "She's taking care of her court, playing some great tennis and has had an impact on all five other courts," Guilbeau said. "And what she's done in doubles has been remarkable. I really hope it keeps going. I have a strong confidence it will. Her game is so well rounded." Collins is glad she wound up at Virginia. She said she just wasn't happy at Florida. "I didn't feel like [the school] was the best fit for me with the type of coaching that was going on there," Collins said. "I kind of felt like I needed somebody who had a more hands-on approach and would try and utilize me a little bit more." Guilbeau said that Collins' experience at Florida — a school that had won recent NCAA titles — paid dividends for his program from the get-go. "At the beginning of the year, and with our team working really hard, she let it be known that there are other teams that are working just as hard, if not harder," Guilbeau told The Daily Progress in early May. "It was good for the kids to hear that from a teammate, a peer, rather than from the coaches." Coming out of high school, Collins consid- ered Virginia and Georgia before choosing Flor- ida. Collins said she was a little intimidated by UVa's academic reputation. "To be honest, I was concerned with my academic strength, because I had never taken academics that seriously in high school," Col- lins said, "so I just didn't feel like if I came to Virginia I would be that successful, which was kind of stupid, because obviously I'm doing just fine [now]. "But sometimes when you're in high school, you don't really think things out that great." After Collins made the decision to leave Flor- ida, she considered William & Mary, Northwest- ern and UVa. Elbaba said she was glad Collins decided to become a Wahoo. "She's brought a ton of energy onto the court and really high spirits and is playing some unbe- lievable tennis," said Elbaba, who knew Collins well from their junior tennis days. "It's amazing to have a really solid player at the top of the lineup. It's been a great thing." As an American-born winner of the NCAA Tournament, Collins is expected to receive a wild-card entry into the main draw of the U.S. Open in August. On her way back from Athens, Ga., she was already planning her trip to New York with Guilbeau and Porco. Collins, who grew up idolizing former pros Martina Hingis and Jim Courier, has played in a handful of pro events but nothing close to a grand slam tournament. "It's still kind of shocking to me that I'm go- ing to be playing in a grand slam," Collins said. "That's been my dream ever since I was about 3 years old. At one point, I thought that it might never happen, so I'm so fortunate to be able to be in this situation. "I'm really excited and really pumped up at the same time." Collins, who still has two years of college eligibility left, is also looking forward to next season. "There's a lot more to be accomplished here at Virginia," she said. "It's been a historic sea- son as a team, and I want to help my team to a national championship. I now know how special it is to win one and I hope we can all experience that together." ◆ i15-17.Danielle Collins.indd 4 6/3/14 2:17 PM

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