“I was in the middle of nowhere, and I was like, this is not helping me,” Shnaider said. “And my dad was like, this is your decision, so make your first whole decision by yourself.”
It would be NC State. Bureaucratic issues made her wait five days in Warsaw for her student visa, and she sprinted down a hall at the US Embassy to collect it before closing time on a Friday. But she made it to the United States a few days before the US Open junior tournament and reached the semifinals of the girls’ event in singles and won in doubles with Lucie Havlickova.
But Shnaider remained athletically ineligible. She had signed a contract with Wesport, a management agency in Sweden, and, Earnshaw said, the NCAA needed to examine the agreement to ensure that any payments she had received were in exchange for the use of her name, image and likeness, which is now permitted by the NCAA
The process took nearly five months to resolve. “It was extremely protracted frustration,” Earnshaw said.
Shnaider got clearance on Feb. 3, the day before a home match with Oklahoma. Though she has gone undefeated in singles with the team, she has been pleasantly surprised by the level of play. For example, she had to save a match point before defeating Sydni Ratliff of Ohio State.
“I was worried I was going to lose time and lose my motivation,” Shnaider said of playing college tennis. But she noted that has not happened. “I’m getting out of my apartment at 8 am, coming back at 8 pm, and I’m passed out.”
She is about to start juggling college tennis and tour tennis, competing at the WTA event in Monterrey, Mexico, where the main draw starts Monday. Then comes the qualifying event at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. Going deep at either tournament will mean she is likely to miss some college matches.