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Raider Spotlight: Belgium native overcomes barriers to become captain

Before her recruitment, sophomore Linsey Verstrepen had never stepped for on WSU’s campus, but is now a leader for the Raiders’ tennis team.

Verstrepen started the season off 5-0 in singles play before dropping a match last Sunday. She has a winning record in doubles despite having very little doubles experience before coming to America last season.

Former WSU head coach Sean McCaffrey recruited Verstrepen through an international recruiting bureau. The bureau, OverBoarder was created by a former player of current WSU interim head coach Todd Tucker, who was an assistant under his brother Ty Tucker at Ohio State.

Verstrepen, a native of Westerlo, Belgium, was influenced to attend Wright State by the makeup of the players on the team. In Verstrepen’s freshman season last year, she was joined by five other freshmen, and was the only international player on the roster.

This year, fellow European Karoline Haller has been Verstrepen’s doubles partner early this season.

“I liked the fact that they were all American, and there were also a lot of freshmen that were coming with me. I would not be the only freshman and I would have Americans that would help me with my English,” said Verstrepen.

As an international business major Verstrepen balances her work on the court with her schoolwork, keeping a 4.0 GPA.

“I try to balance it pretty good. I try to get my hours of sleep, which is really important. English is not my first language, but I feel like going to school here is a little easier than at home,” said Verstrepen.

In addition to obstacles athletics can add to academics, Verstrepen has dealt with struggles that can come with moving from a foreign country. This includes language barriers, different foods and even driving because Verstrepen does not have a car, according to Tucker.

“If you think about all that, she has had to overcome all that stuff and still get grades and do well on the tennis court,” said Tucker.

As one of the three captains, Verstrepen sees herself as someone that is responsible for building team morale.

“We can all do our own work to get the other six (players) motivated and keep them cheering for everyone. I don’t feel any pressure as a captain. I just try to be the same and keep cheering, be loud and keep the energy up,” said Verstrepen.

Verstrepen capability to play at a high level can influence how her teammates are performing.

“Whether she is in practice or a match she raises the bar. She does it in such a good way that her teammates are attracted to that, and they want to do as well as Linsey is doing. She lifts them up,” said Tucker.

As a freshman, other coaches in the Horizon League recognized Verstrepen’s talents when she was voted to the second team in the conference. She hopes to cap the season with a Horizon League Championship and NCAA Tournament berth.

“That would be such a nice reward for our hard work this season. If it’s not this season, it will be next season,” said Verstrepen.