Meet Ivana Corey

Sooners Tennis Player Taking Leadership Role Off the Court

It doesn’t take long to realize this Albuquerque, New Mexico, super senior brings a strong commitment to her leadership role with the University of Oklahoma tennis team.

An excellent player, she is coming off a career year, team and individual success like the Sooners are learning to enjoy. The Big 12 regular season team championship; the NCAA runner-up trophy, a first in school history; NCAA All-Tournament team; NCAA first-team All-American; the ITA  National Indoor All-Tournament team and the ITA Indoor most outstanding player – all were added to Ivana Corley’s trophy case.

Thanks to her parents, she was still playing tennis.

“My sister, Carmen, and I tried every sport when we were younger. We’d play a couple of weeks, then quit,” Ivana shared. “Our cousins introduced us to tennis, and we begged our mom to let us try it. She had one very big condition. We had to stay with it for three months … in June, July and August in Albuquerque. It was miserable because of the heat but I loved it.”

Ivana started at OU in 2018-19. Carmen arrived in 2019-20, so they were together at OU when COVID shut everything down. Ivana wanted to do something with the extra time. Watching cornhole on ESPN gave Ivana an idea. She bounced the idea off her dad and, in June 2020, they created the Corley Cup, a tennis tournament for high school players who were facing a prep career ending with no senior season.

“I was so lucky because my family supported me and got behind the Corley Cup. We found sponsors and awarded prizes. We also are supporting nonprofit groups in the state. We took a challenging situation – COVID – and found a way to help others.”

That approach is something Ivana believes flourishes at OU.

“There is something in the air at OU. It is a key part of the culture. We are surrounded by so much excellence as student-athletes and we are expected to carry that excellence to all parts of our life. We want to be great and we are surrounded by extreme levels of motivation. COVID sparked more desire to do that.”

The oldest of four (Ivana calls it the “oldest child syndrome”), she learned you do things because they are right and you help others understand the why of what you do.

“I don’t look for ways to be recognized for what I do. That’s why the ITA Arthur Ashe caught me off guard.”

As part of that nomination, Ivana wrote an essay that summarized her personal philosophy, dedication to her team and sportsmanship and her ability to overcome challenges. It wasn’t until she began to construct that statement that she realized how much the award meant to her. “It was my big aha moment. It is very important that I expand the things I do off the court.”

The next few months will give her the opportunity to celebrate the blessings COVID brought her. She finished her bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship in May 2022. She then began an MBA and will complete that degree in May 2024.

“My biggest goal in my final season is to help our team learn OU is a program that people know about. This program is becoming a consistently ranked No. 1. People will target our team, and we have to realize that every time we take the court. To be successful, we have to treat the game and every match with the same intensity and respect every time we play. I have learned I can be motivated by those who will play after me.”

After she finishes her second degree, she hopes she and Carmen will be able to build a successful doubles career on the pro tour. “I honestly think we can do special things in doubles.”

It’s amazing what Albuquerque heat can do.

To be successful, we have to treat the game and every match with the same intensity and respect every time we play. I've learned I can be motivated by those who will play after me.”

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