Spring Signing Week '14: Bridgham Joins Flyer Family
by Blair Henley, 19 April 2014
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The college tennis recruiting process can be difficult to navigate, each school with its own unique set of pros and cons. But a specific academic aim can simplify things, immediately knocking out otherwise attractive options. That was the case for Marlys Bridgham. An aspiring engineer, the Five Star recruit knew just what she was looking for in the classroom and on the court - she just needed to find a school where she could focus on both simultaneously.
After hearing college coaches tell her she would have trouble pursuing an engineering degree while playing a Division I sport, Bridgham received an email from University of Dayton
head coach Ryan Meyer. After learning of her engineering interest, he believed Dayton might be the perfect fit, even offering to introduce Bridgham to the Dean of Engineering. She immediately took him up on the offer.
"From the first day that I visited, I loved the campus, the atmosphere and the students," she said. "It wasn't the kind of school I originally thought I wanted, but being there felt right. You can't deny that feeling."
She won't be setting foot on the Dayton campus until summer's end, but thanks to the school's Cinderella run in the NCAA basketball tournament, she got a sneak peek at what it means to be a Flyer.
"It was so exciting that they did so well!" she said enthusiastically. "I didn't fill out a bracket or anything, but I really got into it. I learned something new about myself: I really enjoy watching basketball! I'll definitely be going to the games next year."
Bridgham's journey to Dayton began when she was 10 years old. Swimming was her sport of choice until her mother suggested she give tennis a try. Competitive by nature, she immediately took to the one-on-one feel of match play.
"There was something about the single races as a swimmer that I didn't like," she said. "When I started tennis tournaments, I realized that having a sport that was more of a marathon rather than a sprint was perfect for me."
A self-described counterpuncher, Bridgham's exceptional fitness level has allowed her to wear down opponents during those marathon matches. She started CrossFit at age 13 and has been using it in lieu of suicides and footwork drills ever since.
"At first, I was a little nervous because you don't hear of a lot of tennis players who do a lot of weightlifting," she said. "But I realized what CrossFit was doing for my game, building my muscles and building my endurance and cardio as well. It also helped me prevent injury."