Senior spotlight: Walk-on transfer Devon Wolfe CM ’22 finishes collegiate career as an ace for Athena tennis

A CMS tennis player hits the ball.
Devon Wolfe CM ’22, a walk-on transfer from Bowdoin College her sophomore year, smashes a forehand shot against her opponent. (Caelyn Smith • The Student Life)

With the sun blazing on the courts last weekend, co-captain Devon Wolfe CM ’22 caught fire against her opponents. Going into her doubles match against a Chapman pair on Saturday, Wolfe went undefeated without giving up a single game point.

Executing her forehand and backhand swings flawlessly, Wolfe finished off her competition with Sena Selby CM ’24 to complete her weekend at 5-0 in her matches. The versatile senior totaled 46-0 game wins in both singles and doubles, earning SCIAC Athlete of the Week honors.

“It was super fun; I was really proud of myself [for that performance],” she said regarding the matches. “I was so locked in I [didn’t] even know what [was] happening on other courts, because I [was so focused] on my matches.”

Before excelling in the sport at the collegiate level, Wolfe played tennis before she could even read. Tennis was a family bonding activity for the senior and allowed her to pick up important life values. One of the earliest values Wolfe learned is to uphold the meaning of “good sportsmanship.” 

“At a twelve and under tournament I [once] threw my racket and my mom literally pulled me off the court and [scolded] me,” she said. “The values of learning how to carry myself and learning sportsmanship was most transformative for me as a person.”

Throughout high school, Wolfe continued competing in tennis on behalf of Greens Farms Academy, a preparatory school in Westport, Conn. During this time, she picked up another unique sport that facilitated an easier transition to collegiate athletics. 

“Playing field hockey in high school was really similar to tennis in that if the team lost, it was partly because I didn’t win my individual matches,” she said. “You’re really by yourself out there [in these sports], and it can be hard.”

After overcoming these difficulties, Wolfe ultimately chose to pursue tennis. Although she was recruited by Bowdoin College her freshman year, she didn’t have a pleasant experience.

“You have to travel six hours to go play at another school on the weekend,” Wolfe said. “You’re fighting for the gym space with all the other teams and so we had to practice at 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on a Friday night because that’s the only time we can get court time. [Also], waking up at 6 a.m. and having to put on five layers for the snow becomes all too consuming.”

These conditions compelled Wolfe to search for other options. She found a perfect balance between school and sports at Claremont McKenna College her sophomore year, contributing to her decision to be a walk-on athlete for the tennis program in the spring. 

As a result of joining the team, Wolfe was easily able to integrate into her life at CMC, an experience she says would not have been as simple if it were not for tennis. 

At the start of her junior year, Wolfe took on co-captain duties and created an environment where the team’s values were similar to the ones she herself learned growing up. Now as a senior, she’s one of the best players on a star-studded Athena roster. 

Wolfe put this dominance on display by winning all five matches against San Diego Christian College and Whittier College without ceding a single game point. 

A “perfectionist,” the star Athena explained her slight disappointment during her perfect five-game run because she missed out on achieving a golden set — which refers to winning a set without losing a single point.

Despite these ups and downs in the sport, Wolfe finds the sport cathartic. 

“I play tennis because I think it’s great for my mental health; I love playing a sport because it makes you have goals and work towards it,” she said. “I am competitive and love to compete, a big reason why I’m still playing.”

After graduation, the star Athena sees herself taking a break from tennis. Being something she’ll definitely pick up again later down the line, Wolfe wishes to pursue other physical activities in the meantime. 

“I’ve always loved tennis, but I’ve never wanted tennis to be the only thing that I do or be the biggest part of my identity,” she said. 

In her free time, Wolfe is a part of the College Programming Board and the Financial Economic Institute, both at CMC. However, her time with CMS athletics was most impactful.

“I’m leaving the Claremont Colleges with some closure,” she said. “I feel proud about what I did. My contribution to CMS women’s tennis is definitely setting the team values and shaping the culture of the team, which I hope will continue forward beyond my contributions as a player.” 

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