By Sheri Duff
Champlain Valley Union (CVU) head girls tennis coach Amy deGroot describes Leah Epstein as an exemplary leader. Specifically she says, “Leah’s strong set of values—treating others with respect, putting forth her best effort, and speaking honestly—make her an outstanding leader as co-captain of the varsity team. We all have the highest regard for her. Quiet, yet assertive, Leah possesses elegance in the way she interacts with others.”
Born in Randolph, Vt., Epstein and her family lived in the Montpelier area until they relocated to Shelburne during elementary school. Her family includes parents, Elissa and David; older brother Sam, age 21; and a puppy named Olive.
Surprisingly Epstein didn’t pick up a tennis racquet until middle school. “I took tennis lessons with a friend in seventh grade. I don’t remember having a huge desire to play; it was more like something to do. Little did I know I would fall in love with the sport,” she explained. Encouraged to try out for the team her first year at CVU; Epstein recalls, “Trying out was intimidating because I was the only freshman. But I made the team and played varsity tennis all four years.”
A four-year varsity player and senior co-captain, Epstein describes her strengths. “What I offer is experience. The girls on the team come to me for my knowledge of the game and for support,” she relayed. “MacKenzie Kingston and I are complementary co-captains. We balance each other out. It’s great for the team.” And so it is. Currently the team stands at 4-1 while Epstein individually holds a 3-1 record.
“Leah has played exemplary for our tennis team throughout high school. This year she plays singles. She has a strong serve, is comfortable at net, and is willing to go the long haul to stay in any point,” coach deGroot noted. “Last year she played first doubles and ended the season with an 11-1 record. She and her partner took the Vermont State Doubles crown.”
The doubles state crown was such an accomplishment, it is Epstein’s proudest. “Winning the individual doubles state championship with Claire Stoner is my greatest achievement. Everything came together last year like an accumulation of the entire season. It was really special.”
Next year offers Epstein something really special too. She will attend Northeastern University through its N.U.in program, a specialty program for incoming freshman with an international flair. Specifically Epstein will spend her first semester abroad in Melbourne, Australia. “It’s certainly a different way to start college,” she said, “but the 5-year internship program sold me on Northeastern. Plus I loved the campus and Boston is such a great place to go to college, I just couldn’t pass it up.” If Epstein’s college experience is anything like her tennis playing days, there’s not much doubt that she will ace it.