t took Julia Adam 4,452 miles to get to Seymour High School’s tennis courts.
The Adelsheim, Germany, native joined the Owls community July 23 through a foreign exchange program.
This spring, Adam is the No. 1 singles position for the reigning sectional champion Owls. She has amassed a record of 14-3 in one of the toughest spots on the tennis roster.
“We’ve had foreign exchange students play every year, but this is the first time we’ve had one who has been able to break into the varsity lineup,” Owls coach Jennifer Miller said. “We’ve always had exchange students as long as I’ve been coaching, but they’ve played at the junior varsity level.”
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Adam started playing tennis when she was about 6. She took a brief break on the courts but has played the past eight years.
“I feel like the girls here take (sports) more seriously,” Adam said. “They practice every day, and it’s almost like their life is dependent on the game. It’s more competitive. I like it, it’s a bigger challenge.”
The 17-year-old junior admitted she has a competitive nature and has loved the process of becoming one of the Owls’ own.
“They’re an amazing team,” Adam said. “They’re very honest. I feel like, in a match, if you have a bad shot or something, the court next to you will try to pick you up, even if they’re supposed to be focusing on their match.”
With a number of returning tennis players, she wasn’t sure how she would fit into the Owls’ lineup.
“I thought, because I’m foreign, they wouldn’t put me at No. 1 singles,” Adam said. “ I wasn’t sure what different schools would say having me play.”
Transitioning to high school tennis wasn’t easy for Adam at the start. In Germany, she played at a club near her home in a less-competitive environment.
“The first match, against Columbus North, I lost the match because I was really nervous and lost,” she said. “In Germany, we have different courts: We play on clay, not hard. It was windy and wasn’t good the first match.”
This season, the Owls stand at 13-2. That record includes team first-place finishes in the Providence and Shelbyville Invitationals.
Adam hopes to help make school history while playing for the Owls.
“The coaches told me that Seymour has never won a (Hoosier Hills) Conference title,” she said. “I really want us to win the conference. I know it’s going to be really hard, but I feel like there isn’t a big difference between one and three singles.
“Everybody has good ability to play tennis. It’s not like I’m way better than any of the other singles players. Even if I would lose a match, we still have a strong No. 2 and No. 3 singles.”
While Adam is new to the program, she has thrust herself into a leadership role.
“(Adam) is fitting in really well,” Miller said. “She has a lot of positive leadership qualities: the confidence to step up and say, ‘Let’s go.’ She’s a great motivator for these girls. She says what she thinks, and it’s a good thing because its pushed some of the girls.”
Miller said she thinks Adam’s presence has boosted the overall performance of her team.
“It’s very rare to have an exchange student of her athletic ability,” Miller said. “To have that quality of ability. We’re very fortunate to have her as a part of the team. I think its been a motivator for everyone else. She runs hard, quick, and everyone pushes themselves as well.”
On the court, Adam’s game is characterized by quick points. She aims for lines and isn’t afraid to try to put points away with big shots.
This year, Adam also played soccer and basketball for the Owls.
“I played soccer for the first time in my life here,” she said. “I liked it because we were like a team and stuck together. I feel like every sport is based on different abilities. Basketball was very new. I had never played before and had to catch up with everything.”
In Seymour, Adam is staying with host family Bob and Sharon Wood.
“I wanted to come to America to improve my English,” Adam said. “My sister Stephanie came to America for four weeks in 2012, and she told me how everything was here. She told me that everyone had a different attitude towards sports and being competitive. It matched my personality, and I wanted to see what it was like.”
While Adam can’t pinpoint her favorite aspect of living in the U.S., she said she looks forward to the rest of her stay and making more memories before leaving June 17.