ATHENS – Georgia freshman Aysegul Mert is already a leader on the Georgia women’s tennis team, and her individual accomplishment this season are part of the reason why.

Mert, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, plays on UGA’s top doubles team and is currently in the No. 4 singles position. Mert has five SEC Freshman of the Week honors as she prepares to play in the first round of the SEC tournament on Wednesday.

(This interview has been edited for clarity.)

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment this season?

A: Well, up until we played against Florida, I wasn’t playing singles that much, and we had a big matchup against Florida in Gainesville. They had a pretty big crowd. It’s a tough place to play in. And suddenly I learned that I’m gonna play singles against a really, good girl -- a girl I had lost to in juniors. I was down 4-1 and 40-15 in the first set, and I managed to come back and win the set, 6-4. And in the second set, I was down 4-2 again, and I came back and won it. 6-4, as well. The matches on the other courts were pretty tigh, so I was happy that I could give the point to Georgia.

Q: As a freshman playing line one doubles, how do you keep up with Dasha in your first year?

A: I think the reason we’re playing number one is we both have big serves; we can hit the ball hard. And I guess that’s what it requires to play on the first court. And we have a good relationship on the court and off the court, and we get along well. Yeah, I think we’re just committing to what our coaches tell us to do. I think I mean; it’s worked well since now.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory with Dasha this year on or off the court?

A: Before each match our coach writes us a letter for each doubles set, and whenever we’re down, we read the letter. And we usually laugh so it makes us relax a little, I will say.

Q: What does it mean to you to have won SEC Freshman of the Week multiple times?

A: I know we’re a good team and doubles with Dasha. We’ve been doing well lately. And whenever I get to play singles, I’m just trying to like to leave it all on the court. I’m just trying to get one point for the team. I’m happy it has worked out well. Getting the honor is nice, but I think if we just put in the work each day …. I think that’s what matters the most.

Q: How has it felt working your way up in the singles line? What are your goals for singles for this year?

A: I’ve been practicing pretty good, I would say. I’m good at practices, and then whenever they give me a chance to play, I just try to leave it all out there. I don’t want to leave the court thinking I could have done better. So basically, like that’s my main goal every time I play singles, just fighting to the end and making each point count.

Q: What would you say like is the biggest thing you have to work on in singles?

A: Probably my net game. In doubles it has been much better because we worked on it. I guess it’s different in net games, like obviously the finishing isn’t doubles. So probably transitioning more to the net after hitting a good shot. I mean, that is what we have been working on lately.

Q: Coming from the junior circuit, what do you think is the biggest difference between the collegiate space and juniors?

A: I mean, obviously playing as a team. The atmosphere in the biggest junior tournaments, even on grand slams, we don’t have this big of a crowd. (And) the atmosphere, playing next to my teammates knowing that even though I’m playing a singles match, I’m not alone -- there are five more people fighting for Georgia.

Q: What do you think is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from college tennis?

A: Probably giving myself some time to adjust to the environment. And because of my first semester, I didn’t get the results I wanted, and I always thought that it has something to do with my game. But then since this season moved on, I realized that it’s the same sport, we’re still playing tennis, but it’s a completely new atmosphere. It’s a different environment. So probably just giving myself time to adjust to the environment, and yeah, just observing everything.

Q: Coming from Turkey, what was something about Georgia that made the school appealing to you?

A: Probably the people I talked to on my meetings before coming here. Then on my visit, just seeing this place … and I was meeting so many different people. (It) was enough for me.

Q: How are you preparing for the SEC tournament?

A: We’ve been working really hard. We’ve had some good home matches lately. I think (that) will help us to get used to the atmosphere. We’ve been having more fans each match. We have a big match on Friday, I’m sure the atmosphere will be really good again. So yeah, just playing here on our home courts with our home crowd and just putting in the work every day.

Q: How do you think the next four years are going to go for you?

A: I’m excited, pretty good. Like, II wasn’t expecting my freshman year to go this way. I was, like, expecting more ups and downs, but I’m happy with this. I’m excited, and I think it will be good.

Virginia Miller is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.