From a young age, Silvia Ambrosio was enthralled with tennis. She started playing tennis when she was 7 years old with encouragement from her father and immersed herself fully in the sport. That infatuation with tennis continues to this day as she makes history in West Lafayette.
When deciding to go to college, she noticed a trend of players going to the United States to play for elite teams.
“Everyone was going to the U.S. to play tennis and go to university,” she said.
Ambrosio, a Frankfurt, Germany, native, began her college tennis career at Marquette University, but then decided to transfer to join a more developed program. Ambrosio praised the Purdue coaches for their dedication to the team.
“The coaches are very competent and do a lot for us,” she said. “They are very supportive. They try to invest a lot of time in us. I feel that I have improved a lot since I’ve come to Purdue. I am more confident with my tennis and it’s definitely because of the coaches and everyone around us.”
She says that the area of her playing that has improved the most since transferring to Purdue is her confidence. Ambrosio attributes this improvement to how practices are run.
Part of her newfound confidence comes from talks with her coaches and teammates. Ambrosio and the coaches have frequent discussions about her skills.
Observant comments from teammates about her playing are one of the things that help her confidence the most. When a teammate watches her matches and gives a constructive piece of advice, she feels more confident in her playing.
Ambrosio relies heavily on the coaching staff. She often goes to them for critique on her playing style.
“I think my coaches have always had high expectations. On one hand, it puts on a little bit of pressure, but on the other hand, it makes me think that I am capable of doing what they expect from me,” Ambrosio said.
Another thing Ambrosio constantly develops both on and off the court is her mentality, which she likens to a roller coaster. She said she has been working on it over the past two years and does small things to remain confident.
“Before I return, I try to breathe in a couple times. I do these things to keep my mind busy and not think about things beforehand.”
Another ritual Ambrosio has adopted is bouncing the ball three times before she serves. Small habits like these on the court have helped her to become more organized on the court, directly translating to an improvement in her game.
Ambrosio has improved significantly since last year. This season she was ranked as the ninth best women’s collegiate player in the nation, the highest in Purdue tennis history. She says transferring to Purdue helped her to advance her game.
“When I came last year, I had a big improvement from my sophomore year. Having new coaches helped a lot.”
Coming into the season this year, Ambrosio said she is more confident.
“When I came back this year after the summer, I had a completely different mentality. I was confident and eager to be in the top 10 and perform well in the fall so that coming into the spring I would have a certain level of confidence. In the fall, I was very strong mentally which was a big difference from the year before.”
Although staying tough mentally is a challenge for Ambrosio, she says it is her biggest improvement since last season. While she has already attained her goal of being in the top 10, she plans to return and remain in the top 10. Ambrosio seeks help from her coaches often to help her attain her goal.
Ambrosio said she talks to head coach Laura Glitz when she needs strategic advice on her play. When she is in need of conversational support, she talks to assistant coach Anthony Nguyen. She says that each of her coaches offer support in a different way, bringing a positive dynamic to the team.
Ambrosio is particularly close with sophomore Seira Shimizu.
“I admire her work ethic on the court. If I feel like I am not working hard enough, I try to look over and see what she is doing because she is very focused. She is really tough and it really helps me. She is also calm which is a good balance for me because I am not always calm,” Ambrosio said.
Ambrosio said that being able to have a teammate with whom she has a meaningful relationship is beneficial because it pushes her to work harder and play better.
One of Ambrosio’s goals is to play in the NCAA tournament this year. If she continues on the successful path that she has been on recently, Boilermaker tennis will surely have massive success in its future.