Tennis Is A Labor of Love for Sasha Hartje
Steve Stein Contributing Writer
Sasha Hartje was a busy young woman in high school.
She played tennis, volleyball and soccer for Detroit Country Day School. Outside of school, she played high-level travel hockey.
She was a tennis state champion in 2016 and 2017. She was a member of the Tier II 14-and-under AAA national champion USA Eagles hockey team in 2014.
Her accomplishments in sports and academics at Country Day led to her being named one of nine Class B winners of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Scholar-Athlete Award for the 2016-2017 school year.
And she was named the 2017 Jewish News Female High School Athlete of the Year.
Hartje attends Emory University, a private school near Atlanta, Ga., and plays tennis for the Eagles.
“I was excited to see what I could do if I devoted all my time to one sport. But I also was worried that maybe I’d get bored playing only tennis,” she said.
Boredom hasn’t set in.
“I’ve fallen more in love with tennis than ever before,” Hartje said.
Hartje, 19, is a sophomore at Emory. She’s 11-8 in singles and 9-11 in doubles so far in her college career.
“I prefer playing doubles,” the 5-foot-8 Bloomfield Hills resident said. “I like the aggression that’s needed to win in doubles.”
Her college tennis career got off to a slow start. She was sidelined for two months by a stress fracture in her right shin in fall 2017.
It wasn’t the first time she’d been hurt playing sports. Among her injuries are a broken arm, broken wrists, and a torn tendon and ligaments in her ankle.
Hartje said the stress fracture made her sad, “but I know what it takes to recover from an injury.”
While Hartje’s wins and losses playing tennis for Emory are important, especially for someone who is fiercely competitive and hates losing, they don’t tell the full story of her time so far at the school.
“The other girls on our team are my best friends, and our coach (Amy Bryant) is like a second mom to me,” Hartje said. “She’s there if you need to talk about something on or off the court.”
Having a solid relationship among teammates is essential in college tennis because teams have small rosters.
“There’s only 10 of us on the team at Emory,” Hartje said. “If we didn’t like each other, that could ruin the whole team dynamic.”
Team is a big deal in the Emory women’s tennis program. The Eagles are a perennial NCAA Division III power.
Bryant led Emory to team national championships in 2003-2006, 2014 and 2016. Her teams are 382-96 in her 19 seasons as Emory coach with 13 appearances in the team national finals including a runner-up finish this spring.
When she isn’t playing tennis, Hartje enjoys her time on the 630-acre Emory campus.
“You’re a 10- to 15-minute walk from everything and while Emory is a small school (undergraduate enrollment is nearly 7,000), it’s not like you know everyone when you’re walking around,” she said.
Academics also have gone well for Hartje, who wants to pursue a career in marketing.
Her parents, Tod and Nicole Hartje, were athletes at Harvard University, and her brother Jake plays hockey there.
“I considered going to Harvard, and it would have been amazing to go to an Ivy League school, but I wanted to follow my own path,” Hartje said.
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