‘It feels amazing’

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

SIERRA Donaldson, a junior on the Lee University Lady Flames tennis team, was elated to have been selected as the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Female Athlete of the Week for the first time. “It feels amazing,” Donaldson told The Tribune after the GCAC made the announcement this week.

The 20-year-old earned the honours by helping the Lady Flames women’s team pull off what head coach Patric Hynes described as their “biggest win this programme has had” last week on the road in Greenville, Tennessee.

Lee University improved to 2-0 on February 10 in Greenville, Tennessee, with a 4-3 victory over No.23 ranked Tusculum as Donaldson rallied the Lady Flames from a 3-2 deficit to secure a 6-3, 6-3 win over Paulina Loretz.

“My performance so far is good, but I still have a lot of work to do because I feel there are many more matches ahead for me to play in this semester,” she stated.

Coach Hynes had nothing but praise for Donaldson.

“I’m pleased for Sierra. She has been working hard on her game and she stepped up and delivered for us when we needed her the most last week,” said Hynes of Donaldson’s accomplishment.

Donaldson also earned a hard-fought doubles win as she teamed with Carley Sickinger to take down Julia Lopez and Loretz, 7-6 (8-6).

While Donaldson was named the Athlete of the Week, team-mate Hayden Smith collected the Freshman of the Week honour after she sealed the victory for the Lady Flames with an impressive 7-6 (7-1), 6-1 win over Johanna Palacio at No. 6 singles.

“Hayden has been great for us. To be able to stand up under the pressure of a 3-3 match is something that is not easy,” Haynes said. “She handled that situation perfectly and I’m happy for her to be recognised for that effort.”

It’s that type of effort that has Donaldson beaming with excitement about her team.

“I like my team. They have been playing great,” she stressed. “They’re amazing girls and we all love supporting one another.”

Prior to their win over Tusculum, Donaldson and Lee University opened the season with a 4-3 win over Tennessee Wesleyan University on February 4 at their home court at the DeVos Tennis Center in Cleveland Tennessee.

Donaldson didn’t participate in singles, but she teamed up with Carley Sickinger to complete the sweep in doubles for the Lady Flames with their 7-6 triumph over Maria Way and Honoka Tsuji.

On Saturday, Donaldson and the Lady Flames will be back at home at the DeVos Tennis Center when they host No. 7 West Florida.

“For the rest of the season, I’m looking forward to winning more matches as a team and working hard and having fun all at the same time,” she said. As for her individual game, Donaldson said there’s still some work more to be done, but she’s contended with where she’s at right now.

“The only thing that I need to work on is my conditioning and trying to stay positive during my matches,” she added.

No doubt, the Player of the Week honors has boosted the performance of the 5-feet, 5-inches Donaldson on and off the court.

A major in Sports Management, Donaldson is the daughter of former Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association president Elwood Donaldson.

She previously attended Bahamas Global Academy and was a member of the BLTA’s national team to the Fed Cup, now known as the Billy Jean Cup, for the past five years from 2015 to 2019 compiling a 3-5 win-loss record in the eight matches she played in.

The BLTA, in a press release from its public relations department, congratulated Donaldson on her POW feat for Lee University.