It’s graduation time and so former CNMI junior tennis player Thea Minor can’t help but looked back at how she managed to further her education through sports.
The Saipan Southern High School alumna finished not one, but two courses, as she earned athletic scholarships from two schools in the mainland.
“I played my first two years of college with New Mexico Military Institute. I graduated back in 2016 with an associate degree in pre-nursing. I played my last two years with Henderson State University and graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in human services,” said Minor, who is now based in California.
With the NMMI Broncos, she made it to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I National Championships in both years, while she advanced to the finals in her last season.
Attending regular classes and travelling to compete in various tournaments plus having training sessions were really tough for the former Northern Marianas Sports Association Female Student Athlete of the Year.
“Balancing school and sports was always a challenge to me, no matter how many years I have been doing it,” Minor said.
From the NJCAA, the many-time CNMI Junior National Team member jumped to the bigger National Collegiate Athletic Association, as she suited up for Henderson. She debuted for the Reddies in the spring of 2017 and made history for the team.
“I had a long three-set match and that win helped our school move on to the semifinals. Before that, Henderson State tennis team has not moved to the next round since it switched to the Great American Conference,” Minor added.
Also at Henderson, the youngest daughter of the late Joy and Boyet Minor was named one of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Academic Scholar Athletes. An ITA Scholar-Athlete status is given to a player that has a varsity letter winner with a grade point average of at least 3.50 for the current academic year, and has been enrolled at their present school for at least two semesters.
Meanwhile, Minor is excited that two CNMI players—Carol Lee and Robbie Schorr— will play college tennis this fall. Lee is heading to Georgia Tech, while Schorr will go to William Woods University.
Based on her experience, Minor said the freshman season will be tough for Lee and Schorr, but they will manage, as they will meet new teammates and coaches that will help them go through their student-athlete life.
“I was lucky to have teammates I have known in Fiji, but I was also glad to meet new ones. My advice would be to stay on top of schoolwork because it will get tough during the tennis season. Also, enjoy the college tennis experience. You would not get another chance like this again,” Minor said.
Minor treasured every memory of her playing years in college and in the CNMI and is deeply grateful to the sport that opened many opportunities to her and to the people who helped her develop her skills.
“I receive a lot of opportunities from playing tennis. I was able to get not one but two degrees and meet new friends, new teammates, new professors, and new coaches. I learned a lot from them as a tennis player and an individual,” said Minor.
The record six-time winner of the women’s open singles event in the Pacific Islands Club Saipan Tennis Championship still plays, but only occasionally, as she is now working as a vision therapist and hopes to return to school to gain a bachelor’s degree in nursing.