BG’s Chiricosta handles challenges, on and off the court (4-18-14)

Nikki Chiricosta

Nikki Chiricosta has been able to handle and excel at every challenge thrown at her.
Currently a senior on the Bowling Green State University tennis team, Chiricosta comes from a
tennis-oriented family. She has had a racket in her hands since age 5.
Her parents both played tennis at the University of Toledo, and her mother, Shelia, was the head coach at
BGSU for three seasons before current head coach Penny Dean took over in 1990.
Nikki’s two siblings, Matt and Christine, were both standout players in college, earning recognition for
their play and for academics.
Christine preceded Nikki at BGSU and was the career leader in singles victories and combined victories
before Nikki broke both records this season.
Nikki was able to play with Christine as a freshman in high school and also in her first year with the
‘‘Everyone in my family played college tennis before I did,’’ Chiricosta said. ‘‘I came in as a freshman
to see my sister become the winningest player at BG, and she graduated with a 4.0 (grade-point-average).

‘‘Both of those things were an immense amount of pressure for me,’’ she continued. ‘‘After my freshman
year, I just wanted to be Nikki, not Christine’s younger sister. I knew my results could stand on their
own, and I would not be compared to her all the time.’’
Dean has seen both sisters have success with the Falcons.
‘‘She’s handled it beautifully; she’s just herself,’’ Dean said about Nikki. ‘‘They have a lot of respect
for each other, and each other’s accomplishments. I feel a huge part of why they are like that, is the
way they were brought up by their parents.
‘‘Starting with Christine, and moving on to Nikki, they have really changed the culture of the program,’’
Dean added.
Nikki has 189 overall wins and 95 singles victories for the Falcons. With 94 doubles victories, she is
three behind career-leader Maddy Eccleston.
“After my sophomore year, my sister said: ‘Hey you can break my records. If I wanted anyone to do it, it
would obviously be you, and keep it in the family name,’’’ Nikki said.
Chiricosta did not shy away from the challenge, as Bowling Green was her first college choice. She made a
verbal commitment to the Falcons as a junior in high school.
‘‘There is not that much of a rivalry, but it did push me. I didn’t want to be the Chiricosta who didn’t
perform the way that my brother and sister did, and my parents did,’’ Nikki said. ‘‘I wanted to be like
her (Christine), she set the example for me.
‘‘It wasn’t too much pressure, it just really motivated me.’’
Chiricosta said she has improved her game since her freshman year.
‘‘I think the biggest things I have improved with is my maturity and my mental game,’’ Chiricosta said.
‘‘Tennis is 90 percent mental. You might not be the best tennis player, but if you are smarter and keep
your head, you can win a lot of matches.
‘‘I am one of the most competitive persons ever, and I am very passionate on the court … but until you
learn to develop a mental game, you are not going to get any better.’’
But when she was getting close to breaking her sister’s records, Chiricosta went into a slump, losing
several close matches in three sets.
‘‘It was not only the pressure of winning for the team, it was the pressure of breaking the records,’’
she said. ‘‘After those three or four losses, I said I only need one more win; chances are I’m going to
win one more time, so I need to stop thinking about it.
‘‘You just have to play through the ups and downs,’’ she added.
Chiricosta said she has developed as a leader, using her older sister as a role model.
‘‘She (Christine) came in as a natural leader. That was something I had to grow into,’’ Chiricosta said.
‘‘She is a lot more cool, calm and collected. She is very smart. She knows how to win.
‘‘I’m a lot more fiery and intense,’’ she added.
Although Nikki has been able to surpass her older sister on the tennis court, the classroom is another
story, thanks to an economics class.
‘‘I’ve had one B. I’m at 3.97 something,’’ Chiricosta said. ‘‘Economics really messed me up.’’
Chiricosta is a communications major and would like to work in athletic communications or some area of
sports media.
The Falcons have two regular-season Mid-American Conference matches this weekend and then play in the MAC
tournament next weekend. BG is 4-2 in MAC play so far.
Last season, BG tied for second in the MAC and advanced to the championship match of the conference
tournament before losing. Both were the highest finishes in school history.

No posts to display