Samantha Lasslett stands on the campus of the College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick. The Australian native and tennis player has excelled on and off the court.

Lindsey Adkison/The Brunswick News

Samantha Lasslett started playing tennis when the racket was nearly as big as she was — at just 4 years old.

“My parents played and had me out on the court when I was really little ... like four, for laughs and stuff. I didn’t really start playing until about 9,” she said.

That interest went on to spark a lifelong passion, one that brought Lasslett from her hometown of Melbourne, Australia all the way to Brunswick and College of Coastal Georgia.

“I think it really started with my parents but then I just kept going. It’s fun ... the social and competitiveness. It just feels really good when you have that good day,” she said.

Of course, like so many other sports, all days are not great days. And Lasslett has had to learn the important lesson of not letting an off game get in the way of her vision and love of the sport.

“When you have a bad day, you hate tennis. I feel like you hear that a lot at tournaments,” she said with a laugh. “You’re just like ‘why am I playing this way?’ ‘Why do I even play this?’ I train every day but you get through it.”

Overall, Lasslet has certainly had more good days than bad. In fact, she is such a talented player she was offered a scholarship to come to play for the college. That was four years ago and she was entirely unfamiliar with America as a whole. Georgia was no exception.

“I hadn’t heard of it but, it’s funny, the suburb I live in in Melbourne is called Brunswick East,” she said. “The coach was Kemper Baker at the time. He really told me about the beaches and the island. I was pretty excited.”

Her parents were also excited. They saw the chance as a wonderful way for their daughter to explore the world.

“They were all for it. I’ve always been fairly independent and I have a younger sister. They wanted her to do it too but she’s still at home,” she said. “My parents actually lived in New Mexico years ago.”

It turned out to be a great decision for Lasslett. She took to both the tennis and the small, Southern town like a fish to water.

“It was a huge culture shock. It is smaller and people are very different. They are so nice and always ask about how you’re doing. They want to talk to you,” she said. “Back home, you don’t even take notice of other people ... unless someone is just having a good day.”

She has made close connections off the court as well as excelling in competitions. Lasslett has also had stellar grades to boot, being named as an Academic All-American. She has competed in conference play, just missing nationals the first year. Lasslett won the school’s Champion of Character award as well.

Now that she is eyeing graduation in May, she is also thinking ahead. A biology major, Lasslett is thinking of entering the world of prosthetics when she finishes school.

“I saw a documentary in high school where this guy would go to Vietnam and fit people with prosthetics since they’re are still mines from the war in the fields there,” she said. “I just think it’s really cool and interesting.”

She has even taken time to work at a local clinic and observe their day to day operations. Lasslett is currently considering doing her master’s in prosthetics one she returns to Australia.

“I’ve just started observation at the Hangar Clinic off (U.S. Highway) 17. It’s really cool because they fabricate their own prosthetics in house and it’s just really neat,” she said.

Coastal People appears Tuesdays. Contact Lindsey Adkison at ladkison@thebrunswicknews.com or at 265-8320, ext. 346 to suggest a person for a column.

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