Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Looking back on her career as a Cyclone, Marie-Christine Chartier is full of memories.
Chartier, a senior, came to Iowa State as a 16-year old who was fresh-faced and ready to start her collegiate tennis career. The Repentigny, Quebec native will graduate in May with a degree in psychology and a lasting impression on the Iowa State tennis program.
Choosing Iowa State was almost a no-brainer for Chartier. Iowa State head coach, Armando Espinosa, impressed her with his friendly and open approach to recruitment, and she was enthralled right away with the communal feel of Iowa State's program.
"A lot of coaches would talk to me but then I wouldn't hear from them for a couple of weeks," Chartier explained. "Mando would touch base with me as often as he was allowed to, and he would make sure that I remembered that he was interested, and that's what really stuck with me."
A visit to campus sealed the deal, and shortly after Chartier made her first visit to Ames, she committed and became a Cyclone. A big change from Quebec, the native French speaker had major adjustments to make to assimilate into the Midwest lifestyle.
"I didn't know what to expect, I mean I had never heard of Iowa in my life, but I came here and saw how beautiful it is," Chartier said. "The lifestyle is a little slower so it's a definitely a change, but the people here are so nice, how can you not be happy?"
It was with this attitude that Chartier was able to start her college career. Making friends and staying on top of her classes was easy largely due to her group of teammates.
"Everyone on the team is super studious and everyone works really hard," Chartier said. "We're really good at staying up on things, and it's just a really great group of girls in general."
On the tennis court, Chartier has truly hit her stride this year. Playing primarily at No. 6 singles, she's at the top of Iowa State's roster with 10 singles wins so far in her final season.
The highlight of her spring came at the Cyclones' second home meet, when the squad hosted No. 16 Texas A&M. The Aggies had clinched the match after four contests but that did not stop Chartier for fighting her way through to win the No. 6 spot. She eventually overtook Sheri Olivier with a 10-7 tiebreak to close out the match.
"One thing that's kind of fun to know is that there's no time restraint," Chartier said. "No matter how long it takes to get back, you can."
The match against Texas A&M is just one example of Chartier's diligence on the tennis court. She said she works at keeping herself focused throughout the entire match, whether she's up or down, to get the win.
"You've got to get your mind set on it. If you're down, you have to get back no matter what," Chartier said. "Sometimes it's hard; it's hot out, the girl's playing really well and you don't know how you're going to do it, but you've just got to grind it out."
Chartier credits the home crowd and her teammate's encouragement as fuel to keep her going in those long matches.
"That's my specialty - making it last!" Chartier laughed. "The people that come to our meets are always super into it and it really makes a difference. And it's great to have the whole team on the sides cheering you on."
Doubles competition has gotten a little sweeter this year for the senior. Chartier controls the No. 3 singles spot alongside teammate Tessa Lang. Together, the girls, who have been friends since their debut season, brought Iowa State its first conference doubles win over Texas' Julinia Gajic and Elizabeth Begley on March 16. Chartier and Lang alike believe that playing in tandem with a best friend is key to the pair's approach on the court.
"It's so much fun playing with Marie. It's amazing to finally have the opportunity to play together in our senior year," Lang said. "We know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and being friends on and off the court helps us bring each other up during matches."
Chartier agrees and said Lang's personality helps keep her levelheaded during the heated contests.
"We just try and have fun whenever we go out there, and when you play well, you have more fun," Chartier said. "I get really intense and angry if I'm missing, so if Tessa is there laughing with me, I don't get so mad. We balance each other. I think I pump her up and she calms me down a little."
In their final season, Chartier has worked alongside Lang, Maria Macedo and Chelsea Loprinzi to unify the team by leading by example. She and her senior classmates have worked hard to keep the team - made up of seven Americans and five international student-athletes - unified throughout.
"We've always had our seniors leading the team, but we don't really do captains," she explained. "Everyone takes part in our decisions, and the seniors kind of guide the new people through how we work as a team."
It's this kind of leadership that will continue a tradition of unity on the Iowa State tennis team. Student-athletes like Marie-Christine Chartier provide a perfect example for future Cyclones to shape themselves after, both on and off the tennis court.