Harriet Hamilton finds her home with the Shockers

Graduate student Harriet Hamilton hits the tennis ball during a singles match against Houston. (Mia Hennen / The Sunflower)

Originally from Turin, Italy, first year graduate student Harriet Hamilton knew early in her high school career that she wanted to play in America, but her parents were hesitant and had other ideas.

“When I started the [recruitment] process, I had never been to the U.S. or outside of Europe,” Hamilton said. “I had friends who played tennis in the U.S. and I knew I wanted to do that too.”

The recruitment process in Europe is much different than in the U.S. Instead of a coach contacting a high school, European players have agents and agencies who help them get signed. Because Hamilton did not have an agent, coaches across the U.S. would contact her through Facebook Messenger.

Coaches were determined to have Hamilton become a part of their team. They started contacting her a year and a half before her graduation.

After speaking with Andres Amores, head coach at Jacksonville State University, her mind was made up.

“The team was so diverse and I had a good connection with the coach,” Hamilton said. “The coach also followed all my tournaments.”

Coming from a high school that celebrated different diversities and cultures, predominantly South American countries, Hamilton felt at home. The majority of Hamilton’s teammates were from different countries and she enjoyed learning about her team’s different cultures.

While at JSU, Hamilton was selected to the All-Ohio Valley Conference Second Team and as a freshman, posted a 9-7 singles record from the No. 1 slot.  She also added nine wins in doubles play with partner Elena Tendero from the No. 2 position during the regular season.

She went undefeated at the UTC Fall Invitational, earning three consecutive victories in the Scenic City. During her 2019-2020 season, Hamilton had a perfect 7-0 in singles play during her sophomore season that was shortened due to COVID-19.

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Hamilton knew her time with the Gamecocks was over. JSU’s graduate program of supply chain management and a minor program of data analytics was not up to par for Hamilton. She also wished to leave Alabama to explore the country.

“Jacksonville State is in Alabama,” Hamilton said. “It is a small college town school and I knew I wanted to move to a bigger school and a bigger city.”

With two seasons remaining of eligibility, Hamilton wanted to continue playing tennis, so she was hoping to find the right school with the right program and team. Wichita State checked off every requirement Hamilton had.

The graduate student said she enjoys how much WSU cares about each students’ future careers, as admissions works with students on internships and job opportunities.

During her time with the Shockers, Hamilton has learned to adapt to Wichita’s weather. Hamilton is used to the Alabama heat and playing outdoors all year. When she first attended WSU in the fall, that was her first indoor season. It was unfamiliar to her.

With one year left of eligibility, Hamilton’s goals include getting into the national collegiate with the Shockers.

“WSU provides great opportunities,” Hamilton said. “WSU has been a big upgrade not only athletic-wise, but career and education.”