Tina Samara is a Transition Coach helping athletes globally navigate the often challenging world of college sports. She played professional tennis and represented Norway in the Federation Cup from 1996 - 1998. On the WTA tour, she reached a career-high ranking of 223 in doubles and played in the US Open Singles in 1994 and 1995.
During her college playing days, she won three NCAA National Team Championships and was the #1 ranked NCAA doubles team for the University of Georgia in 1995. In addition, Tina also competed as a semi-pro golfer for three years winning the New York State public links event in 2003. Therefore, Tina understands what is required to compete on a world stage.
Following her sporting achievements, Tina went on to coach Division 1 women's college tennis for 11 years and was known for her practical, empathic and direct approach to the holistic development of both the person and the athlete. Tina privately coaches and mentors many teenage athletes to help them transition from high school into college by pursuing their sporting goals and dreams. She is the owner and founder of Transition Coach 4 Athletes and for the past two years, she has helped many athletes globally, from all sports, find US College Scholarships. TC4A helps student-athletes navigate the often challenging world of balancing study and maximizing sports performance in order to achieve their goals and dreams in life.
TCB: Hi, Tina. Where are you originally from?
TS: I was born in Norway, but moved to NY (Long Island) where I grew up.
TCB: How old were you when you started tennis and who got you into it?
TS: I started playing once a week around 11 years old. We moved to a different part of Long Island where tennis was more popular than it was previously.
TCB: How has the college experience playing for the Georgia Bulldogs shaped your life after college?
TS: I think most former collegiate athletes would say they learned a lot about themselves while competing collegiately. You are obviously navigating a time in your life where there is a lot of transition. You are learning to be independent and are (hopefully) held more accountable for your decisions. I made some great life long relationships and memories during those years and I believe that the college experience prepared me for the next chapters in my life. It helped build confidence and resilience. It taught me how to handle adversity and how to be a real team player.
TCB: You coached some diverse college teams, like University of Colorado at Boulder, West Virginia University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Wisconsin - Madison, and University of the Pacific. What did you learn from each of those positions?
TS: I learned a lot of things have changed since 1992-96! Lol I learned that what makes the coaching experience great is the players. My best experiences coaching were when I had players that were committed and worked. The winning was a by product, but the fun was really the practices and/or matches where the team fought for every point and for each other. I also learned that without a supportive administration it's virtually impossible to have real success.
TCB: What made you move to Colorado and are you teaching tennis there?
TS: I had been coming to CO to visit friends over the years and always said I would move here the second I got the chance. That chance happened in 2006...I somehow got a job working for GE in Network Securities in Boulder, CO. As time went on, I ended up volunteering for the Univ of CO - Boulder Tennis program and subsequently my college coaching career began. After I left college coaching, I knew I wanted to come back here. So I moved back in April 2018. I do have some clients and do some on court coaching, but I am not working at a club or anything like that.
There are SO many opportunities out there to compete collegiately.
If you really want to continue playing, don't quit because you don't think you are good enough.
TCB: You started Transition Coach 4 Athletes a year ago. How did this come about?
TS: Towards the middle to end of my college coaching career, I was noticing how stressed out the athletes were. I felt there was so much anxiety and the fun was missing for so many. Of course, being a collegiate athlete isn't easy, but looking back to my experience (which wasn't all roses) we did find a way to have a lot of fun in between the "blood, sweat, and tears". :) So, after leaving coaching I wondered how I might be able to make an impact in a different way than on-court coaching. That's how the Mentoring side of TC4A was born. I started by offering a mentoring type program for HS athletes and parents. This is a very individual weekly program based on the specific needs of the student-athlete and/or parents. I also do some mentoring for current college athletes who are having some conflict or need help with some of the many issues that can come up while competing in college. The third part is mentoring athletes that are either turning pro/are pro or graduates transitioning into their next phase that no longer includes competing.
After doing the mentoring for some time, I realized it was a pretty perfect fit to add college placement to the mix being that I have spent so much time (25+ years) in the college world, as a player, coach, and recruiter.
TCB: What does a typical week look like for you at TC4A?
TS: Being an entrepreneur with a new business doesn't have a typical week. I work whenever there is work to do, and often that is non-traditional work hours because I do deal with overseas clients. Currently there is also a lot of time spent building relationships and reaching out to schools and communities that might have an interest in learning more about what TC4A does.
TCB: What are the biggest challenges for you at TC4A?
TS: I think with any new business it takes time. There are a lot of other services that do college placement who have been established for a long time. However, there are few that have been on all sides like I have...I get so many calls from potential clients who have paid another company/service and are very disappointed as they aren't delivering on their promise. So often they feel they are just a # and aren't really looked after. TC4A takes a hands on approach, sends no bulk emails, and does not take offers from schools for clients unless they are truly a great fit. I also make it a top priority to let these kids know that I am available throughout their 4 years to help with any issues that might arise. Or, even better, to hear how they are doing and see how they are competing. I need to stay patient, do good work, and believe that it will eventually pay off in the long run.
TCB: What advice do you have for young females playing HS tennis and dreaming of that college scholarship?
TS: There are SO many opportunities out there to compete collegiately. You don't have to be the best player in your school, state, etc. If you really want to continue playing, don't quit because you don't think you are good enough. I offer a free consultation to anyone who wants to discuss what their college pathway could look like. Reach out and let's talk about it.
TCB: Have you played pickleball? Do you like it?
TS: Hahaha, yes I have played - not many times. It's hard not to like, because I'm not getting any younger and it is so much easier than tennis! Plus, I was a serve & volley tennis player so I LOVE coming to the net. I do have issues with stepping in the "kitchen"! I finally, after so many years of being told "CLOSE!" mastered it and now I can't close in pickleball.
TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?
TS: Most of my life I was a Wilson player - using the Pro Staff line...so I'd have to say Wilson is my go to racket.
TCB: Thank you, Tina.
If you want to connect with Tina, you can call her at Ph: (516) 241-8046
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