Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Sophomore Malika Rose wasn't recruited out of a high school program to play tennis at OSU. In fact, she didn't even play for her high school team.
"For my freshman year of high school I trained with the United States Tennis Association in Key Biscayne, Fla.," Rose said. "Then for the remaining years in high school, I divided my time between different tennis academies and coaches. What I did in high school is pretty common amongst players who are serious about tennis."
Even though she didn't play for her high school team, the transition from high school to college and Division I tennis was difficult.
"I had to learn how to be more responsible and accountable for my tennis and for how I prepare for my matches," Rose said. "I had to learn how to do things more professionally. It was also difficult to adjust to the school, practice and fitness schedule."
Rose was highly ranked coming out of high school, but that didn't affect her decision on where to play collegiately.
"I was strictly looking for a program that would help me improve and for a group of coaches that I knew had my best interest at heart," Rose said. "I chose OSU because I loved my coaches and the girls on the team. I just knew I would get along great with them and knew that Coach Chris and Coach Jamea had the desire to build a great program."
Stillwater, Okla. is almost 1,500 miles from Rose's hometown of Miramar, Fla. Most student-athletes get homesick, but Rose was already used to being away from her family.
"I think during the middle of my first semester was when I missed my family the most, but now I don't get that homesick or anything," Rose said. "It helps that I'm used to being away from my family for long periods of time since I used to travel to tournaments a lot without my family during high school."
Her freshman year, she finished the spring season with a 13-8 record all at No. 5 singles and went 6-5 during conference matches. She went 1-1 at the Big 12 Championship and finished with a combined doubles record of 9-12, competing at the No. 1, 2 and 3 position.
During the fall of 2010 she finished with a 6-5 record. She won the consolation bracket of the Air Force Invitational and qualified for the main draw of the ITA Central Regional Championship. She finished with a 2-2 and 3-3 doubles record with two different partners.
Rose is currently undefeated this spring and is using that as motivation to improve her game.
"There are still parts of my game that I feel hold me back from being even better, so I'm constantly working on those weaknesses," Rose said. "My record as of now just motivates me to work harder now that I see my hard work is paying off."
Being at OSU in general has helped Rose improve on her game and she is grateful for the experiences she has had.
"There are so many things I like about being a student-athlete at OSU," Rose said. "I like the camaraderie I have with my teammates, the constant challenges we face as a team, and just the overall process of improving my game.
Although she has had fun playing at OSU, her success has come with hard work and dedication.
"It's not easy and there are times when I get frustrated, but overcoming those challenges are rewarding and feel great," Rose said.