Reka Cseresnyes, the 1998 Sun Angel Female Student Athlete of the Year, graduated in May 1998 with a cumulative GPA of 3.38 in finance and supply chain management. She became the first four-time All-American in Sun Devil women's tennis history in 1997-98 and garnered first-team All-Pac-10 and first-team academic all-conference acclaim. The Sun Devils' 1997-98 captain completed the season with a 26-15 record, an 11-7 dual action slate and a No. 15-ranking. In 2013, Cseresnyes was inducted into the Sun Devil Athletics Hall of Fame. Cseresnyes continues to be involved in Sun Devil Tennis as she has made a very generous donation for improvements at the Whiteman Tennis Center. Cseresnyes was also a very close friend of Pat Tillman and both were awarded the Pac-10 Medal of Honor for being named the top-two senior student-athletes from Arizona State in 1998.
Sun Devil Athletics recently sat down with Cseresnyes to reflect on her time as a Sun Devil student-athlete and to see how her experience at ASU paved her future.
Q. What do you miss most about your playing days as a Sun Devil?
A. I miss being part of a team and working together in a structured and well-organized support system.
Q. What career(s) have you pursued since leaving ASU?
A. I graduated with business degrees (Finance and Supply Chain Management), and went on to get my MBA. I have worked in consulting and project management roles in various industries from high-tech to healthcare and sports management to start-ups. I most enjoyed adding a sustainability approach to my projects, such as when I was responsible for minimizing the ecological footprint of the 2010 Triathlon World Championships in my hometown of Budapest.
Q. What was your most memorable moment as a Sun Devil?
A. My most memorable moment as a Sun Devil had to be winning my last match against the U of A down in Tucson. Their top player (who is now their head coach) and I had a four-year rivalry, and our last match meant a lot to both of us. In addition to securing the team victory, my trophy collection was enhanced with the addition of the racquet she smashed at the end of our match.
Q. What have you done to get involved in the community since leaving ASU?
A. One of the greatest honors in my life was to assist with the founding of the Pat Tillman Foundation – working with his family and friends to lay its foundation and figure out what exactly we should do to honor Pat’s legacy. I am very happy to see the Foundation today, see its impact, the annual run in Tempe and all. Pat would be smiling.
Q. Once a Sun Devil, always a Sun Devil. Why does this hit home with you personally?
A. Coming to ASU from Budapest, Hungary in 1994 was a huge adventure. Coming out of a country which just opened up from communist oppression had me really appreciate all the opportunities and positive, supportive environment. ASU showed me that it does not matter who you are, people here want you to do your best, and will support you in doing so – this was new to me, and I slowly came out of the shell I had built around myself while growing up outside the communist regime’s privileged circles in Hungary.
ASU proved to me that everything is possible in America with hard work. The support I received as a student-athlete enabled me to pair my hard work with smart and uninterrupted work, and I am thankful that ASU helped bring the best out of me.
When I stepped off the airplane for the first time in Arizona on a hot, August day 20 years ago, I would not have believed anyone telling me that I will end up in the Sun Devil Hall of Fame. But even before my induction, I was already committed to ASU for a lifetime: having earned an education that set me on a career path with great professional options around the world, met lifelong friends in my teammates, coaches and many more from other sports and the athletic department. Not to mention, my husband and I met as Sun Devil student-athletes too. Do I need to say more?
Q. What’s the best part about being ASU Alumni?
A. Seeing how the university remains a cutting edge institution on so many fronts. Establishing the Global Institute of Sustainability and walking the talk with all the solar and other green initiatives put in place, or partnering with Thunderbird, my graduate school alma mater. It’s incredible to see the Athletic Department provide even better facilities and equipment to help student-athletes reach their full potential. Finally, I am particularly proud of the way ASU honors Pat Tillman’s legacy.
Q. How does athletics apply to your life today?
A. I am raising three kids with my (former ASU student-athlete) husband, and we are working on instilling the love of an athletic life in them. We try to expose them to different sports by taking them to countless practices and meets, but also take time to go on hikes and play sports together. While they might not all end up becoming competitive athletes, they are getting used to a healthy life with daily athletic activity.