Marissa Lewis set to transfer to Evangel University


After the graduation of Allison Tungate, one of last season’s 18-match winners, the Webster University women’s tennis team will lose another one of its top performers for the 2013 season — sophomore Marissa Lewis. She will transfer to Evangel University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school in Springfield, Mo., after the completion of the current fall semester.

Lewis said her main reason for the transfer is because Webster doesn’t offer the major she wishes to pursue. Her current major at Webster is management, but Lewis will head to Springfield to major in sports administration, a program which Evangel University will offer beginning fall 2013.

Marissa Lewis, then a freshman, returns a ball across the court during an April 2012 practice at the Webster Groves Tennis Center. Lewis, who won 18 matches during the 2011-2012 season, will transfer to NAIA Evangel University at the end of the current fall semester. PHOTO BY VICTORIA CASWELL.

“Honestly, it was like a big blur at first because I didn’t think I would be able to transfer,” Lewis said. “But whenever they (Webster) said they weren’t getting my major, I realized I knew what was right for me in order to get a job after college.”

Lewis said she informed the team and women’s tennis coach Michael Siener of her decision about two weeks ago.

“I was excited about the new experiences I’m going to have, but I was also very sad to leave the friends that I’ve made,” Lewis said. “I think change is probably one of the hardest things for me, but I realize it’s part of growing up.”

Lewis said classes she would have taken in the spring would not have gone toward her new major at Evangel.

“A lot of the classes I would be taking next semester wouldn’t be going toward even close to my major,” Lewis said. “It was just hard to take classes that weren’t even somewhat close.”

Siener said Lewis had been considering a transfer since late last academic year. Siener wasn’t too surprised at Lewis’ decision.

“It was not a surprise that she was going to transfer at some point,” Siener said. “I think she just decided in her mind that instead of staying a year here and continuing her general (education) that she might as well go and start getting classes in her major … Her decision on what she wants to study, that kind of ultimately was her decision on leaving.”

Lewis, who is originally from Owasso, Okla., said she toured Evangel’s campus as a senior at Owasso High School, and she considered it one of her possible selections for college.

“(Evangel) was one of my choices before Webster my freshman year,” Lewis said. “I just remembered how much I liked the school.”

According to Evangel’s athletic website, “scholarships are given based on performance level.” Lewis said she doesn’t think she will receive a full-ride scholarship to play for the Crusaders.

“I don’t know if it’s for tennis or academics, but it’s a pretty good deal,” Lewis said.

Last season, Lewis went 18-3 overall for the Gorloks, which includes a 15-1 record at the No. 2 and 3 spots combined. She compiled a 6-0 mark in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matches in 2012. With Lewis’ help, the Gorloks went 19-3 overall (a program record), won the SLIAC championship tournament and made an appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.

Siener said Lewis’ transfer will have an impact on the team this upcoming season. However, Siener is confident in the team he has now.

“Anytime you lose somebody to graduation or if they leave, it’s a little bit of an impact,” Siener said. “We’ll have somebody else step up. I think we’ve got a good group still here, and I’m pretty confident in any of the girls we have. I think the girls’ team will be just fine. I still think we’ll be pretty good.”

Lewis said she will miss the friendships she helped create during her tenure as a Gorlok.

“It’s going to be hard not to have that fun with them, but I know that we’ll be able to stay friends,” Lewis said.

One of the friendships Lewis made during her time at Webster was with women’s tennis player sophomore Mackenzie Wilder. Wilder, who is a current suitemate of Lewis’, said she felt sad when her friend announced she planned to transfer.

“We bonded a lot. We pretty much did everything together,” Wilder said. “Once you live with someone for a whole year, you become really, really close. We’re actually suitemates now. We became really, really close — about as close as girls become. We’ve had good times.”

The Evangel Crusaders women’s tennis team is coached by Debbie De Almeida. De Almeida is in her eighth season at the helm for the Crusaders. Last season, Evangel — a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference — went 13-5 with a 5-0 conference record in spring 2012. Evangel lost its conference championship match to Missouri Valley College.

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