KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 – “Syukur Alhamdullilah, Sharneem. You made it with GPA 4.0 into the President List of Spring 2020! So so proud of you”.
This was the statement from a proud mother of Nurshaneem Iman Shamsuddin, Rowena Abdullah commenting on the daughter’s achievement in scoring GPA 4.0 to get into the president’s list of spring 2020.
Nursharneem, born and raised in Sabah turned 21 in February and is currently studying in Lees-McRae College, North Carolina, and is into her second year – focusing, both, on academics and sports.
Here, Nursharneem gives an insight into her college life.
”I have played tennis. Basically my whole tennis life started when I picked up my racquet at the age of four-years-old. Not forgetting how important academics is, I always try to balance my time to do both. Having the excellence to do both, my parents worked hard to finance my studies abroad.
”My parents are always supportive of me when it comes to what I want to be in the future. I never have the pressure of choosing my career in life. Although I know I want to be involved in sports, especially tennis.
“I am taking up Sports Management and minoring in Sports Coaching. Lees-McRae College was a perfect choice even though the school size is small but the learning process and the connections between faculty and student is what matters the most.
“My classes are from 10 am-1 pm on Mondays/Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays it is from 9 am-12 pm. I am only taking 5 classes this semester. My coach (Rodger Acklin) was an ex-air force lieutenant who is strict but passionate – and has pushed me to a level that I thought I could not. reach.
“Our schedule has limitations due to NCAA rules. Therefore, we only train from 5.30 pm-7.30 pm; 1 and half hour on-court training and other half-hour is conditioning. On top of that we are expected to run 1/2 mile a day to keep up with our stamina and strength.
“We train five days a week and Saturday is optional, Sunday is a rest day. Playing college tennis is different from playing junior oropen tournaments. There is no individualism in college tennis. Everyone has a task to make the team better – help each other as a team not condemn one another if they lost.
”I am close to all my teammates as I am the joy of the team. Making a person smile can never hurt one’s feelings. Teamwork makes the dream work. Balancing both academics and sports is not easy, but it is doable. Hopefully, I can impact and empower someone to do better than I did.
”I hope tennis players back at home in Sabah can also be successful in both academics and sports because you can gain knowledge from anywhere but information that you learn in getting an education cannot be converted into knowledge – it’s not just about textbooks, but how a person’s critical thinking can develop a perspective in life.”
Nurshaneem in a message to Sabah Tennis Association (STA) president Johnson Koh, mentioned that she is very excited, happy, and grateful for the achievements in the academic sophomore year 2019.
Nurshaneem’s dream was realized when she was personally spotted and picked by Nick Bollettieri himself in a coaching clinic hosted by the world-renowned coach in Kuala Lumpur two years ago.
After her good results in the Malaysian SPM and the SAT exam results she was enrolled in the college.
She got her financial support from the Sports Ministry through NSC and the Sabah education ministry.  All these sponsors deem her qualified to be sponsored through her father’s hard work in chasing the relevant authorities and her credentials.
Nurshaneem confided to Johnson Koh that she is second in the college singles ranking and top in the doubles ranking.
”STA is also proud that a Sabah girl can go to the USA and put a proud dot for Sabah in that college. She is very grateful for what is for her now, and more importantly remembers her roots,” said Johnson from Sandakan.

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