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Class of 2007
From Tennis to Rugby, Pheil Discovers A New Passion

The end of Christiane Pheil’s tennis career started with a phone call.

During her sophomore year at the University of Colorado, Pheil was talking with her mother about some turntables she had just purchased. Pheil had taken an interest in mixing music, and was learning some basic skills from a local DJ.

Christiane Pheil Played Two Seasons at Colorado
© Colorado Athletics

“Halfway through the conversation, my mom was like, ‘How is tennis? I feel like you talk about school and I feel like you talk about music a lot. But you never talk about tennis anymore,’” Pheil said. “It was a simple statement, but it really hit me that she was right. It was almost like I was pushing it out of my mind.”

Although Pheil still loved the competition, she realized tennis was no longer fun. The sport she grew up playing in Asheville, North Carolina since age 6 had become more like a job.

“I had played for 14 years and was playing up to six hours a day year after year. A lot of times people start getting on autopilot, where you wake up, brush your teeth and play tennis. It’s not even a question,” said Pheil, a four-star recruit in the class of 2007. “It was such a big part of my life that I didn’t even realize I wasn’t enjoying it as much.”

Pheil knew something had to change, and scheduled a meeting with her coach at Colorado, Nicole Kenneally, to discuss her feelings.

“She was the type of coach you were able to be very transparent with. She could feel it from me. She knew I was struggling during those years,” Pheil said. “It wasn’t like I was not trying as hard or training as hard because my work rate and effort was always really high. But she could tell mentally I wasn’t necessarily there and the passion wasn’t there.”

The “surprisingly easy” conversation provided relief for Pheil. They decided to give it a week to make sure Pheil was secure in her decision to stop playing.

Once Pheil assured Kenneally that she wouldn’t change her mind, they developed a plan for how Pheil would transition out of tennis.

“The best thing she let me do was train with the team in whatever capacity I wanted, so I ended up going to the gym every day with the girls and conditioning with them. I had grown really close to them,” Pheil said. “Having the full support of my coach and my team was so valuable during that process. I got really lucky with the cards I was dealt in that situation.”

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Page updated on Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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