St. Petersburg's Danielle Collins won the NCAA singles tennis title her sophomore season at Virginia.
"I'm still on cloud nine,” Danielle said. "I mean, it was definitely a big surprise."
Collins was unseeded and defeated three seeded players on her way to the national title. She's the first Cavalier woman to even make it to the quarterfinals - let alone win it all.
"It was a really incredible thing to be able to do and a lot of other people weren't expecting it either,” Collins said.
Plus, the former North East High School star was playing while injured. She recently underwent surgery to remove a bone fragment from her right wrist. Danielle should recover in time to play in the U.S. Open, the bid she wins for winning the NCAA singles title.
The UVA rising junior brings home the NCAA Champion trophy along with the ACC Most Valuable Player Trophy.
Danielle also won a new car, a new Mazda 3. Her first tennis coach, her dad Wally, made good on a promise he made.
"It's a dream sort of come true, there's no question about it,” says Wally Collins. "It was always in the back of my mind and then when her wrist was injured I started to have doubts. And then I said, ‘Well, Danielle you're playing a little bit, I'll give you a little incentive: you win the tournament and I'll get you a new car.' "
Danielle's dad taught her how to play tennis at Puryear Park in St. Petersburg. She knew she had real talent when she started beating her dad and all his friends, her biggest fans to this day. Winning this title makes all the work and all the commuting to IMG Academy in Bradenton worthwhile.
"I love competing,” Collins says. "I'm a really competitive person, even if I'm just playing cards or paddle board at the beach. I always want to win and I always want to do really well. And I hate losing, so that's definitely my favorite thing about playing tennis is competing.”
Danielle plans to play two more seasons for UVA, complete her degree, graduate and then turn pro.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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