Arizona women's tennis player Laura Oldham is leading by example

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Emily Gauci | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona senior Laura Oldham returns a volley during Arizona's 7-0 victory over Sacramento State on Sunday at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center. Oldham is the lone senior on this year's team and took a unique path to get to Arizona.

The only senior on the Arizona women’s tennis team is Laura Oldham, and she took a unique path to get where she is today.

Oldham came to Arizona at the age of 18 from her hometown in Sheffield, England, where she had lived and trained her whole life. Oldham began playing tennis when she was around 6 years old due to growing up in a very sporty family.

“My dad played a lot of tennis himself when he was young, and he was a pretty good player, too,” Oldham said. “My brother … is 25 now, so four years older, and he was at the age when he was just starting tennis, and I used to watch his lessons. And eventually, my dad was like, ‘Do you want to try it?’ So, I tried it out, and it came naturally for me.”

She trained at a large academy in her hometown in England from the ages of 16 to 18. She said she used to watch famous Belgian tennis player Justine Henin when she was younger and tried to emulate her game. Oldham’s backhand is one of her better shots, and she said she modeled it after Henin’s dominant backhand.

Before coming to Tucson to play collegiate tennis at Arizona, Oldham was picked up by the UK Lawn and Tennis Association where she was funded to play at a young age; although, her parents did have to put some money in at times.  

Oldham was recruited by the UA to come to Tucson and be a Wildcat.

“I first got in touch with Vicky, the head coach here,” Oldham said.

Oldham, as sole team senior, said she gives advice and leadership direction to the younger players.

“We all work really hard, and … we’re not the type of girls that need to be reminded to work hard,” Oldham said. “My advice is to just go out and have fun, because if you relax and have fun, that’s when your better side and [a] better game comes out.”

Oldham said she misses her family and the traditions from back home, and also said that the way of life is very different here.

“I know we all get tense at times,” Oldham said, “and, especially as a senior, I look back and sometimes I think, ‘If I just relax, things would have been so much easier.’”

She said she didn’t expect Tucson to have mountains and places to hike, something she enjoyed doing back in England.

“I love being outdoors,” she said, “so in my spare time, we go hiking and just [hang] out with people here.”

Oldham majors in business marketing and, in the future, hopes to market nutrition products — perhaps even to athletes.

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