Emani Decquir and Navy: A Perfect Match

After several seasons as a club sport, the Navy women's tennis team was elevated to a varsity program in the fall of 2009. Now, seven matches into their inaugural spring season, the team is sporting an impressive 5-2 record. A major reason for the Mids' early success can be attributed to a freshman who is a rising star at the Academy, on and off the court.

Emani Decquir (pronounced Day-cure) had the opportunity to play tennis at several other Division I programs including two strong West Coast teams, San Diego and Cal-Poly. She was also offered a full scholarship to nearby Georgetown University, but in the end, she chose the U.S. Naval Academy for a pretty simple and important reason.

 

"I wanted to be a naval officer – that was a priority," said Decquir. "I had applied for the NROTC programs at the other schools, but did not get accepted."

 

"My grandfather was in the Army, so I wanted to do some type of military service. I started to really get interested in it once I came to visit the Naval Academy. I was really impressed with everybody's work ethic," she continued.

 

Decquir also credited her parents, Emanuel and Linda, with helping her decide to attend the Academy.

 

"My parents told me that all the other schools couldn't offer every single thing, from the education and opportunity to play tennis, to a guaranteed job after graduation. Navy, on the other hand, could offer me everything."

 

Ever since arriving in Annapolis, Decquir has been quite impressive on the tennis courts; however, before she could get too involved with the varsity team, she needed to go through the trials and tribulations of plebe summer – the Academy's six-week indoctrination into Navy life.

 

"It was really physically taxing, but I was able to overcome it. I really didn't know that much about the military prior to coming (to Annapolis) so I felt like I was behind everyone, but I was able to figure out what I needed to do so I could blend in," said Decquir. "I didn't want to stand out. Blending in is the basic strategy of plebe summer. It took me a little while to figure out but towards the end I was getting the hang of everything."

 

Another aspect of military life that took some getting used to for the Sacramento, Calif. native was taking orders. Unlike on the court where Decquir is used to being in control, the military lifestyle was a bit of an eye-opener.

 

"I've grown up always questioning (authority). I want to know the answer to things. I want to know why I am being told something. And when I got that here, I didn't really like it. I'm still learning, but that's a good thing," said a humbled Decquir.

 

Once the summer ended, Decquir was able to turn her attention to tennis as she quickly established herself as a formidable opponent to her more seasoned Navy teammates.

 

In September, she beat former number-one singles player, junior Brittney Boucher, in three sets, but in order to solidify her spot atop the depth chart, she knew head coach Keith Puryear wanted to see that she was really ready. 

 

"I had to prove to him that I was mature enough to play number-one singles and I think I did that in the fall."

 

In her first career match, Decquir won a three-set victory over Marist's Maria Yurgel. She went on to post an impressive 7-3 mark in singles competitions and a 5-4 record in doubles action.

 

And while Decquir impressed her coach on the court, her first semester in the classroom was going equally as well. Typically the first year at a service academy is the most difficult one for freshmen as they struggle to wade through all of the constraints on their time. However, Decquir posted a 3.0 GPA going into the spring, and has followed it up with a 3.6 average after the first grading period was completed this semester. It sounds impressive but this driven young lady is not satisfied.

 

"It's expected of me. We have standards in our company (in the Brigade). I'm trying to get a 4.0. I'm below (my) standards right now."

 

Listening to Decquir, one would have no doubt that it is just a matter of time until she earns perfect grades. Speaking of time, she does not have too much of it on her hands these days as every hour is full.

 

On most weekdays, her routine starts at 5:30 a.m. when she gathers with her teammates at Halsey Field House for running and conditioning. After her early-morning workout, Decquir gets to be quizzed on professional military topics by her upper class midshipmen before making her way to formation and breakfast. By 8 a.m. she is in the classroom, where she is carrying ‘only' 16 credits this semester. After the morning academic session and a quick lunch, it's about 12:30 p.m. when she changes into her workout clothes for either weight-lifting or tennis drills before making her way back to class at 1:30 p.m.

 

The women tennis team's daily practice schedule depends on the day of the week during the winter as they must split time with the men's team on the indoor courts at the Brigade Sports Complex. So after classes are completed for the day, Decquir can find herself on the court as early as 3:30 p.m. and sometimes as late as 8 p.m. Afterwards it is back to her room for about three hours of homework per night until lights out at 11 p.m. 

 

One would think that after putting in a full semester at that pace, Decquir would welcome a break to return home during Christmas. Perhaps, she would be able to catch-up on a lot of sleep like some of her civilian contemporaries. However, that was hardly the case.

 

"When I went home for Christmas, I ran out of things to do. I was getting bored. I feel like if (I went to Georgetown) that I wouldn't have enough to do," said Decquir.

 

"You get tired of just laying around – sometimes."

 

In addition to achieving a 4.0 GPA, Decquir has several other goals including to post a winning record on the tennis court this spring. So far, she has matched the team's record of 5-2.

 

As for the team, even though they are in their inaugural season, Decquir thinks that a conference championship is not out of the realm of possibilities.

 

"I think we can win the Patriot League Tournament, but no matter what, we want to be the most fit team on the court and we want to fight the hardest," said Decquir.

 

When asked if there were any matches in particular that Decquir was looking forward to this spring, the freshman did not hesitate to respond.

 

"The Towson match because I played their #1 girl twice in the fall and have lost both times. I feel it is my time to win the match. I think it is going to be very intense. And I'm coming out for her…I'm ready to win," said Decquir.

 

Indeed she was. Decquir disposed of Towson's Lauren Cloonan this past Sunday in straight sets to avenge her two earlier defeats to the sophomore, helping lead Navy to a convincing 6-1 victory over the Tigers. 

 

Once Decquir's tennis college career ends in 2013, she would like to either become a Navy pilot or, if her grades are good enough to be selected to medical school, a doctor.

 

For most aspiring naval officers that would be a pretty good plan A and plan B. However, moments after asked which one she would prefer doing, Decquir came up with a plan C.

 

"I can do both."

 

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About the author: David Ausiello is the senior writer at GoMids.com and a 1997 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. If you would like to send him an email, click here.


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