TALLAHASSEE — It didn’t take long for Whitney Eber to make a good impression on her new team.
Just three weeks into her first season on the Florida State University women’s tennis team, Seminoles coach Jennifer Hyde approached Eber, a Barron Collier High graduate, with pleasantly surprising news. The junior might have just transferred to Tallahassee from the University of Utah, but Eber’s teammates and coaches decided she should be a co-captain.
Eber will help lead the Seminoles into today’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championships at Wake Forest University. She was ready to contribute as soon as she arrived, but she didn’t expect to be thrust into a leadership role she shares with senior Miranda Foley.
“I was really surprised because I was only a walk-on and new to the team,” Eber said. “But I was really happy and honored by it, because I was picked by my teammates.”
Eber wasn’t new to team leadership. She was Barron’s No. 1 seed and a captain at Utah as a sophomore. But the girl who grew up in Florida had trouble adjusting to the frigid Utah winters, as well as the long distance between her and her family. Eber’s mother, Judi, was her travel companion to her juniors circuit tournaments. Her father, Warren, was her coach.
Eber said that distance and the opportunity to see her family only a handful of times a year were too much.
“I was calling them every day, which I didn’t expect to do,” Eber said.
Eber requested and received a release from Utah, which allowed her to transfer straight to Florida State, a school she always had wanted to attend, without losing any eligibility. Hyde looked at Eber’s ability and experience and felt she could be an immediate leader for her young team. Of the nine Seminoles women’s tennis players, four are freshmen and three, including Eber, transferred in this season as juniors.
“That shows you how quickly Whitney showed her leadership skills,” Hyde said. “Obviously, having already played two years of college tennis, she had a lot more experience than the majority of girls on this team.”
“Her work ethic speaks for itself,” Hyde continued. “She showed that very early. When she got here, she was willing to work every single day and people know that’s a huge sign of a leader.”
Eber always has been ready to offer her teammates support. She’s long considered herself a cheerleader, something she credits growing up on a high school tennis team as helping to develop.
She said she’s also learned to diffuse the flare-ups that come with nine different personalities on one team.
Those nine personalities today are solely focused on the conference tournament. The Seminoles finished the season at 9-12, 2-9 in the ACC, a conference that features six teams in the national top 20.
Eber has spent the season playing at Nos. 5 and 6 singles and Nos. 1 and 2 doubles.