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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Two Commodores compete at Chengdu 2023 World University Games

Vanderbilt Women’s Tennis player Amy Stevens and Vanderbilt rower Julia Ayer represented their respective countries at the 2023 Games.
Members+of+the+Vanderbilt+womens+tennis+team+pose+for+a+photograph+on+Oct.+18.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29
Vanderbilt Athletics
Members of the Vanderbilt women’s tennis team pose for a photograph on Oct. 18. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Before beginning their respective seasons representing Vanderbilt, student-athletes Julia Ayer and Amy Stevens were given an opportunity to compete at the international level. At the beginning of August, Ayer, a member of Vanderbilt’s Varsity Club Women’s Rowing team, and Stevens, a tennis player, competed at the 2023 FISU World University Games. Originally slated to be hosted in the summer of 2021 in Yekaterinburg, Russia, the games were delayed and moved due to COVID-19 complications and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, eventually landing in Chengdu, China. 

With its first iteration coming in 1923, the World University Games represent a unique chance for student-athletes to get exposure to an international sports competition. As 53 countries competed for medals across 18 sports in the 2023 games, both Commodores were able to meet and compete with athletes from all corners of the world. 

“It’s honestly hard to fully grasp,” Ayer said of the experience. “Getting to be with individuals from all across the world and form community across language barriers because of one similar, grounding passion is incredible.”

After applying and earning a position on the team during the spring season, Ayer was given two chances to represent Team USA at the Games. In her first competition, Ayer competed in the women’s pair competition alongside Colgate’s Emma Dukeshearer. The duo finished the event in fifth with a time of 8 minutes and 7.33 seconds. Ayer also competed in the women’s doubles event with Ohio State’s Ceylan Algan, completing the event in 7:43.20 and finishing fifth. 

“It was so cool to see people coming from teams across the country and how everyone has the one thing that makes them love rowing and pushes them to succeed,” Ayer said. “It gave me a lot of perspective on how I can inspire our team when I come back to campus.”

For Stevens, competing at the Games was a continuation of her junior international career. After performing well while representing Australia at the 2022 BNP Paribas Championships in Honfleur, France, she was given the opportunity to don the Green and Gold again in Chengdu. 

“It was amazing to meet the different teams there and see all these different athletes and sports come together,” Stevens said. “I learned tae-kwon-do kicks and was able to improve my fencing stance, as well. It’s phenomenal to feel a community and a true team atmosphere.”

Playing in three different competitions, Stevens enjoyed her most successful run alongside Oregon’s Joshua Charlton in the mixed doubles competition. The duo quickly found a rhythm in the competition and eventually finished in fifth place, narrowly missing a medal spot. Stevens also competed in the Women’s Singles and Doubles events. In both competitions, she was able to win her opening match but subsequently fell in the Round of 16. 

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity, and I’m happy to walk away from it with great friendships,” Stevens said. “I didn’t necessarily get the results I wanted, but I’m incredibly happy to have lived that experience.”

Vanderbilt Varsity Club Women’s Rowing’s season will begin on Oct. 7 with the Music City Head Race, while Stevens and Vanderbilt Women’s Tennis team will gear up with a short fall season before competing in the spring.

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About the Contributor
Anish Mago, Deputy Sports Editor
Anish Mago ('24) is from West Windsor, N.J., and is studying economics and political science in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. When not writing for The Hustler, Anish enjoys playing basketball and rooting for all Philly sports. He can be reached at .
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