EMMA Hall is a big hitter. The Mount Martha resident began playing tennis seriously when she was 11 years old and left Australia to head off to the US in the late 1990s to play tennis professionally, having made her name on the Australian juniors circuit.
The 34-year-old is now set to have her US achievements immortalised in the Big South Conference Hall of Fame this week.
It’s a long way from her tennis career beginnings at Main Ridge tennis club and current stint as Rosebud Tennis Club’s section 1 team captain, leading the team to “back to back” premierships for the past two seasons.
The Big South Conference is a Division 1 athletic conference with members coming from Virginia and the Carolinas’ universities. She will be just the 54th Hall of Fame inductee in its 11-year existence.
Previous Big South Conference Hall of Fame inductees – including student-athletes, coaches, administrators and contributors – have come from 17 different sports, making Hall’s ascension to their ranks an indication of just how highly Coastal Carolina University rates her success as a sporting champion for the university.
“It’s an honour to be inducted into the hall of fame,” Hall said. “It was a real education growing up away from home and I was really fortunate to get the chance to get a sports scholarship.”
CCU’s faith in Hall’s sporting prowess paid off in tennis titles for the university.
She was a four-time Big South Women’s Tennis Player of the Year – the first and only Big South women’s athlete in League history to be award Player of the Year all four years of eligibility.
Hall still holds Coastal Carolina’s school record for most singles victories with 114, as well as doubles wins with 92. Her final four-year record against Big South competition was 28-1 in singles and 22-2 in doubles.
She was voted the Big South Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in 1999 – the second tennis player at the time to receive both awards in the same season, and led the Chanticleers to the finals of the Women’s Tennis Championship in 2000, which was Coastal’s first appearance in the title match since 1995.
As a junior in 2001, Kidd was part of CCU’s first-ever Big South Women’s Tennis Championship and NCAA Tournament berth, as the Chants went 20-2 that season.
She helped the Chanticleers reach the Big South final for the third consecutive year in 2002. During her time in Conway, Kidd led Coastal to a 62-23 overall record, including an 18-4 mark in Big South play.
A three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete selection in 2000, 2001 and 2002, Kidd was a three-time member of the Big South Women’s Tennis All-Academic Team and was voted the Women’s Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2000. She was also a four-time team MVP and two-time team captain during her career. Kidd played professionally in 2005 and 2006, and was inducted into Coastal Carolina’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.
Hall will head off to the Carolina with her American husband, Mac, who she met in a love match while in Carolina, to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, but looking back, she believes her time at university was not all about tennis.
“The education component was really important and I’d urge anyone who gets the chance to undertake a sports scholarship to make sure they study to complete a degree.”
Hall is content to be a stay-at-home parent for the moment, having previously worked at Mornington Peninsula Shire in council’s recreation department.
“Being a mum is the toughest challenge I’ve ever had but I love it,” she said.