Junior tennis player Lucie Devier in her first season with North Texas brings a power style of play after moving on from Tyler Junior college where she was an NJCAA All-American.
Through the fall and early portion of the spring semester, Devier says North Texas was the right place to continue her collegiate career and to be a part of head coach Sujay Lama’s program.
“It was a pretty easy process to be part of a team who welcomed me and I was able to become close with my teammates because they were so nice,” Devier said. “Usually I can adapt pretty well in a new environment and it felt good to be around teammates that encourage you to play open and freely.”
During the recruiting process, Lama and his assistants pursued Devier after hearing from a close friend in Texas A&M Corpus Christi head coach Steve Moore on her talents. The North Texas coaching staff took a drive to Tyler to watch Devier play and decided she would be a good fit.
“She has a good sense of touch and power,” Lama said. “Her comfort and confidence in being aggressive to the ball that’s in front make her special. Most of the players at this level usually stay back and let the ball come to them. What I really liked in her was the kind of power and variety of shots she takes.”
At TJC, Devier was ranked No. 2 in the nation for NJCAA singles and doubles, winning the 2019 regional championship. The same season she ended the season as the runner-up in the NJCAA national championship for singles and doubles.
In the three fall tournaments North Texas participated in, Devier finished with a (2-6) record in doubles and a (4-5) record in singles.
The opening fall Texas Christian University tournament Devier was a combined (1-4) in doubles and (1-2) in singles. Against Big 12 competition she was winless resulting in an (0-1) doubles record and an (0-2) singles record.
In the regional fall tournament hosted by the University of Arkansas, Devier produced a winning record in both doubles (3-2) and singles (1-1)
“She struggled in the fall and things didn’t go the way she wanted,” Lama said. “Each tournament you could see her improve and find her stride. During the offseason, I think she used that as motivation to come back a better player and she put in the work to overcome those early struggles.”
Devier says adjusting to the Division I level took time and noted the competitiveness and relentlessness of each opponent she faces.
“The matches are tough at this level and you can’t take any plays off,” Devier said. “Where I played in junior college things came easily and now at the Division I level you face great competition everywhere. I really struggled in the fall but I’ve been more consistent during the spring and got into a good rhythm.”
For doubles matches, senior Nidhi Surapaneni is Devier’s partner where the two are coming off a sweep against Sam Houston State University (6-1) and (6-0) to Bearcat juniors Karla Montalvo and Sahaja Yamalapalli.
The doubles pair between Devier and Surapaneni is described by Lama to be a ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ tandem. He describes Devier as a power-dynamic player and Surapaneni as a calm force and smart player.
“[Devier] is full of energy as a partner and I’m usually pretty calm and collected during matches,” Surapaneni said. “It’s a pretty good combination to have, when I need to be energized she can help me get there and if she gets too anxious I can calm her down and help her relax and stay focused.”
The first two matches North Texas played in were against No. 3 University of Texas and TCU who had top-100 individually ranked players.
Against Texas on Jan. 17, Devier fell to freshman and No. 94 nationally ranked Lulu Son in three sets (4-6, 6-1, 6-2).
In doubles, Devier and Surapaneni fell (5-3) to freshman Collins and Sun.
The following week against TCU, Devier fell to No. 48 ranked senior Marie Norris (7-4 [7-6], 6-2) and teamed up with Surapaneni to defeat junior Mercedes Aristegui and freshman Isabel Pascual (7-5).
“The first few weeks of the season she came out and played well against strong competition,” Lama said. “Against Texas, she takes the first set against a great opponent but later fell. The match against TCU, her and [Surapaneni] won against two good players. She’s developed faster than what I expected her to at this point in the season.”
Courtesy Mean Green Sports