The evolving panther from Madagascar
GSU tennis player, Niri Rasolomalala wants to continue the dominance that made her career legendary at GPC.
When Niri Rasolomalala graduated from GPC last year, stating that Georgia State would gain a very good tennis player would have been an understatement.
The legacy that was left behind by Rasolomalala after two years of playing for the Lady Jaguars is nothing short of amazing.
Days before GPC’s spring commencement ceremony in May 2014, Rasolomalala lead the Lady Jags to their third place finish in the 2014 NJCAA Division I National Championships.
“I felt so proud of the team, because that’s the highest the women’s team had finished in a good while,” said Rasolomalala. “That was my last spring on the team, and I really enjoyed representing GPC.”
The tennis star also used the championships as a way to help sharpen her skills on the court as she prepared for the competition she would face in NCAA Division I at GSU.
“I ended up playing against a girl that I had beaten before, but I realized that I have trouble playing against certain players,” said Rasolomalala. “Mentally it helped me prepare to go play in (NCAA) Division I, so in a way I learned to be stronger both
mentally and tactically.”
Seven months before GPC played in the NJCAA Nationals, Rasolomalala played in the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships in Sumter, S.C.
The tournament is open to the best players from schools in NCAA Division II and III, NAIA and the junior
Rasolomala dominated in the tournament winning the national championship for junior college in the singles bracket.
She also finished as the runner-up in the junior college doubles bracket as well as the tournament’s “Super Bowl.”
The superb level that Rasolomalala was competing at during the tournament did not stop her from having an opportunity to learn more about her game.
“I didn’t know I could adapt so easily to the different tactics that were played,” she said. “I used to play the same style and wouldn’t mind about tactics, and then I had to adapt to play against different type of players.”
When asked who inspired her to play tennis, and what motivated her to compete at a high level, Rasolomalala said, “I played tennis, because of my brother. We started together, and then he got good really fast and won trophies. I said ‘I’m going to be like him,’ so I became better and started to win trophies and represent my country, Madagascar, in different places. I just loved the game and being competitive; it’s just fun.”
When she decided to leave her home in Madagascar and move to the United State to play for GPC, the changes that Rasolomalala had to adapt to were not as difficult as they appeared to be.
“It wasn’t really a culture shock, because prior to coming to America, I trained in South Africa,” she said. “Where I was in South Africa it was similar to here in America. So my culture shock was when I moved from Madagascar to South Africa.”
The only cultural differences Rasolomalala had to deal with in the U.S. were the differences in food, language, architecture and weather.
Tennis has given Rasolomalala the opportunity to live in different countries and experience other cultures. Playing at GPC and GSU has also given her a chance to travel to different parts of America.
Rasolomalala enjoys traveling to Florida because of the weather and also New York.
“I like Florida, because it’s the closest place to make me feel like I’m at home,” she said. “Traveling on the road is really fun, because I get to know the girls and the coaches. New York is another nice place I like
Rasolomalala advises others to focus on their dreams, and learn from the past.
“Playing tennis has taught me that you can’t regret what has happened in the past and look to far ahead for what’s in the future,” said Rasolomalala. “You have to focus and have the right mindset for the moment and go at it. You can learn from the past, but you have to keep it all focused at that moment.”