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Photo Credit: Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
 
Eighteen-year-old Charlee Goodman of Milwaukee is studying to become a doctor while beginning her college tennis career this season. With her high school and junior success, the McKendree University freshman and NJTL graduate has aced her first test and is ready for the future.
 
By Nicholas J. Walz, USTAFoundation.com
 
Charlee Goodman has found success on the tennis court behind a big, dependable forehand she has developed during her eight years of play. Yet the 18-year-old will tell you that the key to her game is more parts mental than physical.
 
“Being consistent, being able to concentrate, that’s been my strength,” said Goodman.
 
It’s that same mental fortitude that has delivered the Milwaukee native – a straight-A student over the course of her high school years at the Rufus King International School – to anywhere she has wished to go during her young life.
 
Now, that means on to college. Goodman, 18, began her life as an undergraduate at McKendree University in Illinois in August, with long-term plans to pursue a doctorate. Her eventual goal is to become a psychiatrist.
 
“I’ve felt for a long time that I wanted and could help children [and] adults face and get past their problems,” she said.
 
Tennis became a passion for Goodman during grade school. She began playing at the age of 10. Soon after, her parents, Vanessa and Erick, noticed their daughter’s aptitude and appetite for the sport and signed her up to be part of their local NJTL chapter, the Milwaukee Tennis & Education Foundation (MTEF), in 2007.
 
Charlee’s younger brothers, Erick Jr. and Chancellor, currently play tennis there as well.
 
“Being part of NJTL has been a pretty rewarding experience,” said Goodman. “The people are amazing, as are the coaches.”
 
When Goodman says “rewarding,” it’s for good reason: Few NJTL graduates have achieved more both academically and athletically than she has. She participated and won multiple NJTL-sponsored National Student Athlete Competitions (NSAC) as a teen, balancing individual tournament and Junior Team Tennis play while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average in school.
 
“Charlee is an outstanding role model for any student athlete,” said Dan Limbago, USTA National Manager of Programs and Services. “She strives to be the best in all aspects of her life, and actually reached the limit in how much scholarship money an NJTL participant could have earned by taking part in the NSAC. While it’s tough to get most kids playing enough tournaments and Junior Team Tennis, Charlee played a demanding schedule and excelled in the classroom.
 
“The sky’s the limit for her – she could do anything she wants to in life.”
 
NSAC and NJTL made Goodman’ s resume stand out as a very well-rounded application for admission to McKendree, one of the top-tier academic universities in the Midwest.
 
“I had no idea that tennis could open up doors for me, at least in that way,” said Goodman. “I started to put money away for college starting in eighth grade. Looking back, you just feel so grateful, because not everyone gets to go to college.”
 
Goodman is currently one of seven freshmen on the McKendree women’s tennis team, all jostling for playing time. She’s striving to keep her game and strokes consistent, taking to the courts either for practice or hitting on her own time, most every day. It’s a lot to balance along with an ambitious course load, but so far this NJTL product is taking it all in stride.
 
“I never really get tired of tennis – it’s a stress reliever,” said Goodman. “I always enjoy playing.”
 
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