During the final eight weeks of the spring semester, CisternYard Sports will be releasing a feature story each week on a student athlete at the College of Charleston that our sports staff thinks you should know. This week, we highlight senior standout Kelly Kambourelis of the women’s tennis team.
It is not often that you come across a student-athlete quite like Kelly Kambourelis.
Her tremendous skill on the tennis court is secondary to her successes in both the classroom and her professional life.
As she completes her four-year career on the women’s tennis team, Kambourelis has become a well-known name on campus. This season, she competed at the first singles position, leading the team to a national ranking and numerous wins over top programs in the country.
A tennis player since age six, Kambourelis credits her father for teacher her the game. The Melbourne, Fla. native has been playing the sport for 16 years and began dominating the Florida tennis circuit at a young age. She was ranked No. 3 in the state in 2007 and was named Florida Today Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007.
Kambourelis is one of two seniors on the tennis squad this season, providing crucial veteran leadership thus far. As the College entered a new conference, Kambourelis stepped up to lead the team through a new challenge.
The CAA has proved to be a learning experience for the women’s tennis team in 2014. After becoming familiar with the Southern Conference teams during her first three seasons, the new competition has been a challenge for both Kambourelis and her teammates.
Although matching up against new faces, Kambourelis was not phased, as she earned the College’s first CAA player of the week award back in late February. She was honored after defeating the 2013 CAA player of the year, Maria Belaya, of nationally ranked William & Mary.
With the CAA Tournament set to begin next week, Kambourelis knows that the competition will be tough, especially after the Cougars’ up and down regular season.
“It has definitely been a change. In the SoCon, every team had to play every other team in the conference before the tournament, so you really got a chance to size each other up during the regular season. The rivalries that had existed before anyone on our current team came to CofC were really present. Now, in the CAA, we don’t know the other teams well yet so we are still getting our feet wet with what these new teams are like and what it takes to win. I think there will be a lot of unfamiliarity for us in a couple weeks when the CAA tournament starts,” she said.
Tennis has brought many memorable moments for Kambourelis, but she narrowed her favorite memories down to one spectacular postseason run.
“My proudest moment has been winning the Most Outstanding Player for the 2012 Southern Conference Tournament. We beat UNCG in the SoCon finals after losing to them in the regular season that year, so blanking them 4-0 in the tournament final and personally winning MOP for the tournament is my favorite memory,” she said.
Aside from her achievements on the tennis court, Kambourelis is also an accomplished student in the classroom. A member of the prestigious William Aiken Society in the Honors College, Kambourelis will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average, which she has maintained all four years.
In addition to being nominated for several awards, she has already been awarded the Alumni Medal and the John Lewis Garvais Jr. Award. In addition, she works for the writing lab in the Center for Student Learning and has been an orientation intern for three years. She currently works with The Keynote Group in Mount Pleasant as their media relations coordinator.
For Kambourelis, tennis has helped her develop more than just skills on the court.
“I think tennis has made me well rounded and has kept me extremely busy. Between tennis, school, internships and part-time jobs, I have really been able to experience a lot of different things. I have had built-in best friends with my teammates and built-in mentors in my coaches. I’m a competitive person, and tennis has been a great outlet for me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love walking down the street in my uniform and representing the College of Charleston on and off the court,” she said.
Between her great academic record, her stellar career on the tennis court and her extensive internship experience, Kambourelis is sure to be successful wherever she may land after graduation. She does, however, have some big plans for her next chapter.
“I am planning to make a big move, all the way to Hawaii. I am going to try to get a job in marketing, writing, or public relations, and I plan to apply for the LSAT in a few years,” she commented.
Despite all the opportunities that lie ahead for Kambourelis, she is not ready to give up playing tennis. Tennis has a reputation for being a lifetime sport, which Kamboruelis certainly agrees with.
“I want to continue to play tennis after I graduate because I don’t want to lose the skills I have now. A lot of people take time off after they graduate, and I know I would be frustrated to lose the consistency and accuracy I have developed over the years. Tennis is such a lifelong sport, and I want to stay in good shape so that I can continue to play it for decades to come,” she said.
With graduation only a month away, Kambourelis is feeling nostalgic about her time at the College. She acknowledges that she is truly going to miss Charleston, especially her teammates and the school.
“I have already started missing Charleston and graduation is a month away. I’m gong to miss the camaraderie of being on a sports team, different landmarks on campus like the Cistern and the iconic brick sidewalks, and even memories of pulling all-nighters before tests. I’ll miss a lot of things about the surrounding city as well, like trips to my favorite restaurant Barsa, going on carriage rides, and walking to the Battery,” she said.
The College has been a place where Kambourelis has been able to succeed academically, professionally and, of course, athletically. Her awards and records only represent a small margin of what she has achieved during her four years in Charleston.
With her loaded resume, Kambourelis will thrive in whatever she decides to pursue next, perhaps after a quick lounge on a Hawaiian beach.
Check back next Friday for the sixth edition in our “Eight for Eight” series on men’s basketball point guard, Anthony Stitt.