There are student-athletes with remarkable high school careers, and then there is Samantha Asch.
A Middle States standout since her earliest years, Asch enrolled at Wake Forest in January and is now hoping to roll her high school success into a stellar college career. Enrolling early gave Asch the chance to adapt to college classes, practice with the team and get a head start on the fall season.
A five-star recruit by the Tennis Recruiting Network, Asch was ranked as the fourth-best recruit from New Jersey and was ranked in the top 50 nationally. Middle States caught up with Asch, who grew up playing Middle States tournaments and dominating the rankings.
You had quite the career as a junior player, and now you’re suddenly playing Division I tennis at Wake Forest. What has that been like for you?
I started here in January, so I’ve only been around for one semester. It was a big transition, but it wasn’t too bad. I’m getting used to it. There was an extra spot on the team and my coach wanted me to get a head start on academics and being on campus, and it has worked out. I’ve loved it so far, the team has been really supportive of me.
Leaving Middle States and high school tennis, did you feel prepared for the next level?
I was pretty focused on academics in high school, but I always put in maximum effort on the court, even if I didn’t have the amount of hours that most kids did. I made the most of my time and played in some tournaments that I really do think prepared me. By my junior and senior year, I think I felt like I was ready.
When did you know that college tennis was an option for you?
I think if you do well in the Middle States tournaments, college tennis becomes an option. When you see girls in the same position as you are, but older, you can see the offers they have and get an idea of what your choices could be. Still, it’s a matter of how much you want it, and I knew I wanted to play in college, so I worked at it.
Now that you’ve had a chance to experience college and get a head start on Wake Forest tennis, do you have certain individual goals you hope to accomplish in the next few years?
My ultimate individual goal is to be an All-American. We’ll have to see what happens, but that’s the goal. This summer I’ve been working on getting in the best physical shape I can. I’ve played in some Challengers already and have been giving it my best shot. This summer has been a confidence boost for me, just because I hadn’t played tournaments in so long, and I’ve done well.
How did you get into tennis in the first place?
My dad has always been into tennis and he plays. We have a court behind our house, so that’s how I started. I picked it up, and by the time I was 12, 13 and 14, we would go at it and play pretty hard.
How will you stay involved with tennis after college? Have you had a chance to think that far ahead yet?
I guess it just depends on how things go. I think I’ll always be involved and always play. I’ve worked on it for so long, so hard, that it’s not something I can just give up. I’ll always have to play somehow.