NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt freshman tennis standout Célia-Belle Mohr has been in the United States for less than a year. She still recognizes she’s getting an unparalleled education, both at Vanderbilt University and in life, especially being a Black female student-athlete during Black History Month.
“I feel like it’s a very, very good thing to do – to do a Black History Month. I’m very proud of my origin. We don’t have this where I’m from,” she said.
Mohr, hailing from Montargis, France, took a chance on herself and on Vandy in 2021 when she arrived in Nashville to play for head coach Aleke Tsoubanos and to study economics. One of the top youth players in France, Mohr took what she called a “gap year” after graduating high school in 2019 and did some soul searching as to whether she wanted to pursue professional tennis or further her academic and amateur athletic careers.
Vanderbilt had seen Mohr play at an international tournament in Miami, Florida, in 2019 and let Mohr know the Commodores were interested in her joining the Vandy program.
“I knew that it was a very good University with a very good tennis program,” Mohr said. “I emailed the coach and she immediately responded to me. We had a very good relationship and very good feeling. I was very comfortable with them.
“I love it here. I love Vanderbilt.”
Mohr’s mother played soccer as a youth in her native Cameroon before moving to France where she played handball professionally. Mohr’s father was a swimmer. But Mohr laughs when recalling how her mother always said she wanted a daughter who played tennis – thus, at the age of 5, a tennis racket was thrust into Mohr’s hand.
Universal Tennis ranked Mohr, who turns 20 in April, as one of the three top college players from France for the 2021-22 season. She described her game as aggressive and as a player with a powerful serve who has a propensity to hit the ball as hard as possible.
Mohr has been working to become more comfortable at the net and to be a better doubles partner so she can soon make her debut for the Commodores. For now she’s continuing to assimilate to life as an American student and a Vandy tennis player looking to make noise in the near future.
“I feel like in America, compared to France, there is a lot of opportunity as an athlete and also professionally. I really want to continue my school and my tennis here because I really like the coaches here,” Mohr said. “The tennis program is very good. I think I am at a better level right now. And after graduation I really see myself staying here in America.”
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.