Sept. 18, 2013
Audrey Ann Blakely comes to Pitt from Wyomissing, Pa., where she was a PIAA State Singles Champion, recording a perfect 32-0 without losing a set. In addition to her outstanding on-court accomplishments, Audrey Ann was a National Center for Women in Information Technologies Aspirations in Computing Award National Runner-Up in 2013.
Get to know more about Audrey Ann in our first “Getting to Know” of the season:
What made you decide to come to Pitt?
“I was looking at a lot of different types of schools; some that were more academic focused and some that were better athletically, but Pitt had the best balance of both academics and athletics. Pitt being in the ACC is a big deal, and the fact that Pitt is a reputable academic university that now is in such a power conference athletically made me very interested. Then when I went on my recruiting visit and saw the tennis team chemistry that sealed the deal for me.”
How have you liked being a Pitt Panther so far?
“It’s really awesome. Being a student-athlete means that these past three weeks have been really crazy with hard practices and classes, but being on the tennis team gives me a circle of teammates and coaches that is constantly giving me encouragement and support. Having that support system is a lot of fun and makes all the hard parts of being a student athlete worth it.”
Last year you won the Pennsylvania High School Tennis State Championship. How does college tennis compare to your high school tennis experience?
You are part of the Honors College here at Pitt and are planning to double major in computer science and physics and astronomy; do you have a favorite class this semester?
“High school tennis was a lot more flexible, and college tennis is much more demanding and challenging. College tennis is much better though because it feels more like a team. In high school, I experienced a lot of individual success which was really nice, but in college there are many more opportunities not just for me but for the team. It’s great to be a part of such a hardworking team that wants to accomplish goals together.”
“All of my professors are really funny and personable. Being in honors courses is nice because they offer small class sizes, so you really get to develop relationships with professors. My data structures class is my favorite! My professor works at Google for his day job, and I think that is so cool! I am also one of only four girls in the class. It is really fun, and I just love computer science.”
You have two older sisters who excelled in college tennis. What is it like being the third to enter the college tennis scene?
“Grace played at the University of South Carolina from 2003-2007 and Martha played at Virginia Tech from 2009-2012. Obviously I feel a little pressure to do well at Pitt athletically because my sisters both had amazing college careers. That pressure is worth it though because having them come before me gave me a ton of experience. I know the ups and downs of being on a team, I knew how to do a college search, I knew what a great conference the ACC is, and for that I have my sisters’ experience and guidance to thank. They always help motivate and inspire me.”
What advice did your sisters give you about coming to college?
“They told me to make the most of being a student and of being an athlete because it is difficult but it is also rewarding. They gave me a lot of time management related advice like do my work, both school and tennis, but also fit in time for myself and my friends. My sisters and my older teammates are really helping me to find that balance!"
Your sister Martha entered the Pitt tennis coaching staff this year as a volunteer assistant coach. How has that been?
“Absolutely wonderful! I learned how to play tennis watching my sisters play and sitting in on their practices, so my sisters have always been some of my best coaches. It is very comforting to have Martha as a coach because she knows me well and has always been supportive. She is one of my best friends, and I love having her there. It is a total blessing.”
What is the best part about being on the Pitt tennis team?
“Being around a bunch of girls who are super talented, highly committed, and also who care about each other so much is absolutely amazing. You don’t get that on every team, but our team does a great job of pushing, encouraging and looking out for each other.”
Have you found any unique study spots around campus?
“I spend lots of time studying, and I put in study hours at the Hearst Academic Center in the Petersen Events Center, which is a great resource for student-athletes. I also love the Art Library in the Frick Fine Arts Building. It is always silent and is a really cool place to be.”
What is your favorite thing about Oakland?
“I love that it is a campus in the city, but you still have a lot of green space. Also, people are so friendly; everyone is always smiling!”
Now for an important question: Where is your favorite place to eat on campus?
“Spice Island Tea House on Atwood Street! It is a really cute Thai Place that is delicious! The head of the computer science department took me there on my recruiting trip, and I have loved it ever since.”
What are your favorite Pitt sports to watch other than tennis?
“I love basketball and also Pitt soccer! I think they are such fun sports to watch and Pitt has amazing basketball and soccer facilities. I go to all the games that I can.”