In this day and age of college recruiting, which involves emails, texts and social media interaction with eager coaches, the process can get impersonal.
So you can only imagine how nice it must have felt when Falls Church High School junior Natasha Subhash got a seven-page handwritten letter from University of Virginia women’s tennis coach Sara O’Leary last September.
“I was like, ‘Wow!’” Subhash recalled. “It was just so sweet and caring.”
A subsequent visit to Charlottesville made Subhash fall head over heels for UVa and all it had to offer.
“It was just an amazing place,” said Subhash, a Fairfax native, “and just a bonus that it was so close to home.”
On Sunday, the 2019 UVa commit plays in the first round of qualifying at the Boyd Tinsley Women’s Clay Court Classic at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
Subhash and 2018 UVa commit Amber O’Dell — a blue-chip prospect from New Jersey — received wild cards from Boar’s Head Sports Club Tournament Director Ron Manilla into the $80,000 USTA pro-circuit event, which begins main-draw play Tuesday.
The tournament, which features big-name tour players such as Madison Brengle, Jennifer Brady and Taylor Townsend, runs through next Sunday and is free and open to the public.
Subhash, a blue-chip recruit who picked UVa over North Carolina, is looking forward to playing in Charlottesville, where she will soon be going to school, a main cog in O’Leary’s second recruiting class.
“This will be the biggest pro tournament that I’ve played,” she said. “It will be tough. I know that. I just want to see how well I can play.”
Subhash’s parents are from India. They moved to the United States the day after they got married.
Subhash has been playing since the age of 3. For a stretch, she was coached by the sister of former UVa men’s tennis star Michael Shabaz, also a Fairfax native.
Growing up, Subhash said she has modeled her game after various pro players, taking specific things from each.
“I’ve been told that I play a lot like Alison Riske,” said Subhash, referring to the American tour player who has been ranked as high as No. 36. “I’m aggressive from the baseline and look to attack with my backhand. That’s how she plays. She’s like the better version of what I’m trying to be.”
Subhash said the main things she’s trying to work on now are her strength, fitness and balance — some of the things O’Leary touched on in the recruiting letter.
“She had specific goals for my game that I thought were really insightful,” Subhash said, “and just seemed really committed to making me better any way that she could. It just said a lot about her as a person that she really cared about me and wanted me there.”
For a full schedule of tournament matches, visit usta.com or the Boyd Tinsley Women’s Clay Court Classic Facebook page.