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Small-Town Miller Thriving in Big City

Nov. 5, 2004

by Simit Shah – Being a freshman is supposed to be difficult, but don’t tell that to Kristi Miller, Georgia Tech’s tennis phenom.

In just her first several months on campus, she has taken the collegiate tennis world by storm, streaking to an 18-2 start in singles play. In her first tournament at the Baylor Invitational, she captured the both the singles and doubles title.

Several weeks later, she won the consolation title in the qualifying portion of the ITA all-American Championships.

“We haven’t had anyone in our program achieve that kind of success, especially on a national stage,” said Bryan Shelton. “We had high expectations when we recruited and signed her, and she’s certainly lived up to those. She’s going to be a big key to our success during her career here.”

The Maryville, Michigan native boasts some impressive junior credentials, and Shelton was impressed from the first time he saw her play. Ranked by the USTA as one of the top 15 high school players in the nation, Miller had her pick of major college programs.

She and her parents visited a number of schools in the south, including Florida, Florida State, Tennessee and Wake Forest. However, there was something about Georgia Tech that piqued her interest.

“I knew I wanted to be in a big city, because I grew up in a small town,” she related. “When I came to visit here, it just felt right. For me, it was just everything, even the dorms. Of the other schools I considered, nothing had anything close to this.”

On the first day that coaches are allowed to visit recruits, Shelton was on Miller’s doorstep. “I didn’t want to sweat it out,” he laughed. “Luckily, she gave us an early commitment, so it all worked out.

“We’ve had some great players over the years, but with her national ranking, there’s never been anyone better on paper. It was really a huge signing for us.”

Miller has made an amazing adjustment to both college tennis and college life. Shelton attributes it to her intellectual maturity. However, even she’s a little surprised at her early success.

“Of course, I couldn’t have predicted this,” she said. “I wanted to do well. Going into my first tournament at Baylor and not knowing many of the players there, Coach and I talked before that tournament. His goal was for me to just play consistently and focus on making fewer errors, not forcing the issue or overdoing it.”

Miller has also displayed her prowess as a doubles player, owning an 11-2 record with partner Alison Silverio. The pair met as competitors on the 12-and-under circuit, and they have clicked quickly on the court.

“We both bring a lot of energy, and we complement each other’s game very well,” said Silverio, a sophomore from Ohio. “She’s just positive. It’s really been a great experience for both of us.

“We played together in a couple of tournaments over the summer, and that helped a lot. It helped a lot as far as chemistry. We got a sense of knowing how we move together on the court. We were able to figure out some simple things before we started the season.”

Despite her early success, Miller is focused on improving and making her mark in ACC play during the spring season. And given her youth, the sky is the limit.

“She’s just a terrific competitor,” Shelton said. “”She doesn’t like to lose a single point, much less a match. She’s already solid all-around, and she can only get better. She has a huge upside.”

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