Julia Newman flew out of Auckland on Saturday to begin a tennis scholarship at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).
But there is much more to the 18-year-old Tauranga Lawn member than just her tennis ability.
Newman finished five years at Tauranga Girls' College late last year. She was awarded the 2017 Westpac Business Awards Teenpreneur of the Year and gained a scholarship to study commerce and law at the University of Otago this year.
But when the rare offer of a tennis scholarship to IUP was offered she quickly accepted with the surety she hits her forehand volleys. Aside from honing her tennis skills, she will study a Bachelor of Commerce specialising in international business and marketing.
Newman's ability to be a role model at school, particularly for young Maori women, is something she would like to do more of in the future.
"It is very important to me. Just setting a good example for younger people, especially when I was at Tauranga Girls' College and showing them what you can achieve," she said.
Last year she was awarded the Sylvia Stephenson Trophy Sportsmanship Award for her contribution to junior tennis and the positive effect she brought to the tennis community.
The opportunity to experience a whole new sporting and academic life in America came about after she went to Wellington last year to take part in what is known as the American Showcase.
"I signed up with the agency Platform Sports Management there and did a video which was sent out to the coaches in America for division one and two. I had five enquiries and went with IUP," Newman said.
Newman started playing tennis when she was 7 after watching older siblings Joshua and Matthew play. Both brothers made it to national level.
Her competitive drive makes playing tough matches her favourite part of tennis, particularly doubles where she prefers to be part of a team with her partner.
Newman was selected in the national team event for Waikato Bay of Plenty for the last five years and last December made it to the semifinals of the New Zealand under-18 nationals in doubles. In singles, she made the final of the New Zealand Maori tournament before losing to former New Zealand rep Shelley Price.
At IUP she wants to continue to improve as a tennis player.
"My coach there, Larry Peterson, has come from division one to IUP in division two, so he has a lot of knowledge working with different athletes throughout the years," she said.
"Definitely moving forward I want to improve my volleying to be stronger mentally and tactically. I don't attack enough so want to improve during the scholarship."
At Tauranga Lawn highly respected coach Luis Lana has played a key role in guiding Newman, as has her father, Rob.
"My dad coached my two brothers as well, and he has been right through the whole journey with us and played a huge part," she said.
"Luis has definitely helped on the technical side. He has really supported me and taken the time to develop my technique to ensure that for the long term I do not develop any bad habits and just become a strong tennis player."