Vanquaethem Searches for a Place to Play
By Cody Parker, Sports Editor
Kelsey Vanquaethem has dealt with a lot of change in the last seven months of her life.
The Belgian native began school at UNCP in August of last year. Recruited for tennis, Vanquaethem was partially drawn to UNCP because they had another Dutch speaker on the team in Gabriela van Ooststroom.
Vanquaethem wanted to come to the U.S. so she could continue to focus on tennis. She said that in Belgium the focus is so much on your studies that student-athletes can’t really continue to progress on the athletic side of things.
“In Belgium, you have to pick your studies or sports because the studies are so hard you have to quit your sport,” Vanquaethem said.
She has a friend in Belgium, who she played tennis with in high school, that now only gets to play tennis maybe once a week. In high school, they would play three or four times a week.
Vanquaethem grew up in Menen, Germany. Menen lies along the border between Belgium and France. She said that she began to play tennis at the age of three. When she was younger, she also enjoyed swimming and ballet but she got out of those to focus on tennis as she got older.
“Both my parents played tennis when they were younger. They were not that good, but they played and I thought it was fun so I started playing,” Vanquaethem said.
She said that she just loves being out there on the courts and being able to meet so many new people.
The colleges are much different here in the U.S. when compared with those in Belgium. She said that most colleges in Belgium are just one building with there being, essentially, a different department on each floor of the building.
She noticed the food is a bit different here as well.
“The food, you get lots of food here,” Vanquaethem said.
The portions of the food are smaller in Belgium and there isn’t as much fast food. She said fast food wasn’t everywhere like it is here in the U.S. They certainly have it, but you usually have to drive a little bit to be able to see a fast food restaurant.
But after just one year at UNCP, the women’s tennis program has been cut and she is searching for a place to transfer. She wants to continue to play tennis, and some coaches have shown interest in bringing her on as well as van Ooststroom.
Some coaches are interested in them both as they play together in doubles matches.
The timing of the announcement is making this difficult though as the final signing day is only in a couple of weeks. Also, many coaches already had their classes signed so there aren’t as many scholarships available at this point in the year. She said the team is still fighting, but the announcement has affected the team.
“We want to do the best we can, but we still know it’s not going to change the position we are in now,” Vanquaethem said.
Photo by Stefanie Smith. Kelsey Vanquaethem readies herself for the serve in a match earlier this season.