St Peter's School tennis star awarded scholarship to Ivy League college
It's not often four international universities come knocking on your door, offering scholarships to study for the next few years of your life.
Mississippi State University, Maryland University, the University of California Santa Barbara and Dartmouth College all offered full scholarships to St Peter's student Nina Paripovich.
In the end the young Hamilton woman decided Dartmouth College was the place to be and accepted a tennis scholarship worth $75,000 for each of the four years of study towards her degree.
Nina, putting in the hard training hours with her coach Guillaume Gignoux at the Lugton Park Tennis Centre in Hamilton.
She said it had always been her dream to study at an Ivy League college.
"I think when I heard Dartmouth was interested, my gut feeling was to go there.
"After doing my official visits in October, I fell in love with New England, the region Dartmouth is in, and the strong sense of community that came with the small college tucked away in the woods.
Nina Paripovich, photo by MARK TAYLOR Stuff NZ
Next year Nina will play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's tennis tournament in the US but she also hopes to play for the New Zealand women's tennis team in the future.
"Dartmouth is also one of the only Ivies that has a strong undergraduate focus, whereas a lot of the others mainly focus on grad school."
Nina, 17, said she enjoyed meeting the college's tennis team and its head coach, Bob Dallas, together they made her feel "very welcomed".
"So I guess all those aspects made Dartmouth the top choice."
Nina started playing tennis when she was about six-years-old.
She's played in a host of national representative tennis teams since she was 14 and more recently was in the NZ Junior Development Squad and had an ITF ranking of 449 in November.
Nina hoped to improve her game playing in the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) tennis tournament while with her new college team.
"There are many competitions all year around. One of my goals individually would be to make it to the NCAA individual finals, by making the finals of my regional tournament, and then as a team, my goal would be to win the Ivy League conference, as the Ivy league is a sporting conference."
Before heading away to college, her goal was to win the national under 18s tournament in Auckland in December.
Long term, she wanted to play for the New Zealand women's tennis team.
Nina said at the moment she was considering studying engineering at college, either chemical or biomedical, but Dartmouth was a Liberal Arts school which opened up other options as well.
"I could end up anywhere as you are required to take subjects in different areas such as English, social studies, language, which is the exciting part.
"Every undergraduate degree is 4 years at Dartmouth and they are all BAs, however, a Bachelor of Engineering requires an extra year which would bring me up to five years if I did decide to go down that path."
Nina's parents were from Serbia and they lived there until 1994. They immigrated to Zimbabwe after the civil war in former Yugoslavia.
Nina was born in Zimbabwe in 2000 and the family moved again, this time to New Zealand, in 2002.
"We moved around in New Zealand a bit but mainly lived in Tauranga until I was five, and then we moved to Hamilton where we have been living since."
Although well-travelled as a child, Nina said she had never lived in America but was looking forward to the experience and a time of discovery.
"Grad school seems very appealing to me so that is definitely an option. Other than that, I will probably start thinking what I want in my junior and senior year [3rd and 4th year]."
In total, 19 St Peter's students achieved scholarships for 2018 and beyond.
Story by Lawrence Gullery, courtesy of stuff.co.nz