Scholarly Stories: Miller thrives on competition, on and off the tennis court

Scholarly Stories: Miller thrives on competition, on and off the tennis court

Continuing the series that began in 2016-17, each Wednesday will spotlight a Michigan student-athlete and his academic endeavors. Here are our stories of scholar-athletes, brought to you by Absopure.

By Catherine Heher

At first sight, it seems that Kari Miller was destined to play tennis at the University of Michigan. She started playing around the age of three, surrounded by parents who played tennis and an aunt who played professionally. Michigan was also in his blood: Miller grew up in Ann Arbor with two alumni parents, both of whom were heavily involved in the campus community.

But Miller points out that you don’t reach your level of success without fully owning your athletic and academic career.

“It was a slow, subtle transition from being responsible for my parents to being in my care,” she explained.

Miller says the summer before her junior year of high school was when things really started to change. She trained incredibly hard throughout the spring, eventually placing third at two national tournaments over the summer. Miller has always been good at tennis, but these successes revealed a whole new level of talent that she could tap into through hard work and determination.

The decision to come to Michigan was also his. She grew up watching the women’s team every time she played in Ann Arbor and saw coaches Ronni Bernstein and Teryn Ashley Fitch in action. She was of elementary school age when she started thinking she might want to play tennis and go to school in Michigan.

“The balance between school and athletics is really special here,” she noted, focusing particularly on the strength of the Ross School of Business where she is currently enrolled.

Miller’s intensity on the pitch is equally evident in his studies. She interned at a private equity firm in New York last summer with only one year of college under her belt. Currently, she is applying for private equity or investment banking internships for the summer after her freshman year; a highly competitive process in a highly competitive industry.

“I’m definitely a numbers person,” she confessed, “but I don’t think it’s the most interesting thing in the industry.”

She was looking for a career path that would allow her to utilize the same competitive nature and discipline that she cultivated as an athlete. Miller has known coaches and other players who have had success in the industry, and she felt it would be an exciting way to put her skills as an athlete into a real-world situation.

In many ways, Miller’s athletic and professional ambitions are one. She has a natural predisposition and talent for both, but it’s her drive, discipline and competitive nature that make her a star. Miller doesn’t settle for good when she knows she could be great.

This commitment can certainly be all-consuming.

“Essentially you don’t have work-life balance, at least in the early years,” Miller admitted of the financial industry, “but to me, that’s no different than what that I’m going through right now. I don’t have a lot of free time.”

At the heart of Miller’s motivations is a genuine desire to do and experience life. If she had a free weekend, she says she would probably spend it traveling with friends and exploring her interest in photography, a hobby that has taken a step back from her busy schedule. She enjoyed living in New York last summer for similar reasons: the fast pace and the new experiences. Miller is ultimately a successful person, whether it’s going to tennis practice in Ann Arbor or flying to a new city for a new job.

While she’s certainly a person with a lot of internal motivation, the people in Miller’s life also play a huge role in her success. She strives to be the best, not only for herself, but also for her teammates.

“Part of the reason I’ve had good individual results is that I play for a team. That’s what drives me,” she said. While tennis is an individualized sport, Miller believes team results are most important, what happens individually comes second.

She feels being part of a team has been the most defining part of her Michigan career so far. It’s an experience she didn’t have much of in high school and one that she’s hugely grateful for in college, not just because it pushes her to be a better player, but because of the support and camaraderie.

Miller is only a sophomore, so while she has lots of ideas for her future — maybe playing tennis professionally for a few years and eventually working in finance — her current goal is simply to get away with it. strive to be the best. She will continue the internship application process and continue to strive for success in the classroom. On the pitch, she has a few individual goals she would like to work towards, but her team is at the forefront of her mind.

“I want my team to win the Big Ten and hope to make at least the Sweet Sixteen, if not further in the NCAA Tournament,” she said. “The main objective is to focus on the performance of my team.”

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