It’s only the first point of the match, yet Nicolette Martin is celebrating like her team just won the Super Bowl. Her arms are raised to the sky, her back is arched, her joyful scream cuts through the air.
Just think, only about 45 or so minutes left of this. Throughout a match, Martin is as bouncy and peppy as a cheerleader and no, she’s never been one.
“I don’t know where it comes from because my mom and my brother and my dad are all very quiet people, we don’t like to raise our voice a lot so I’m not really sure where it comes from,” Martin said. “It’s not fake, it just comes from whenever I get a point, I feel the need to let it out.”
Martin had a lot to cheer about over the weekend in the AVP Austin Open when she teamed with Falyn Fonoimoana to finish third, the highest placement for both players.
It was only their second AVP tournament together and following a stellar career at USC, the 24-year-old Martin is making breakthroughs on the pro tour.
But it appeared they were right for each other from the first time they stepped on the court together in Mexico. The main two reasons? 1. Pass by Martin. 2. Thump by Fonoimoana.
For a team that has played in only five tournaments together, they have an uncanny ability to communicate on taking only two shots to get their point.
At the same time, if they have to scramble, that ball might not hit the sand. And if Fonoimoana isn’t putting the ball away, Martin’s pinpoint shots will deliver.
That’s the formula they used in Austin, and even if they fell one match short of reaching the finals, the journey to get there was worth every minute.
“Oh my gosh, it was amazing,” Martin said of their run to the Sunday semifinals. “It was kind of the end of a six-week long journey for me and Falyn. We started in Aguascalientes, Mexico in the NORCECAs, and then from there we went to the Cayman Islands for a NORCECA, then we went to Huntington for the AVP, then we went to Cuba for a NORCECA and now we’re here. So it’s not really a new partner for me. We’ve kind of had a really long journey so finishing on a Championship Sunday for AVP is actually really awesome.
“I actually didn’t get any sleep (Saturday) night. I woke up at 2 a.m. and was like ‘Is it time? No.’ And then I woke up at 4, ‘Is it time? No.’ I was real excited about today.”
Perhaps she was painting the picture of victory in her mind. The Fine Arts major, who was All-Pacific-12 Academic first team during her career at USC (and All-America third team), has had her work displayed on campus and doesn’t miss a chance to see an art display.
Both careers could have been on hold. Martin had her 2018 season interrupted last summer in a don’t-try-this-at-home moment.
“That was just a freak accident,” she explained. “I was making a smoothie in a blender and I took the lid off and as I was pouring it out the blade wasn’t locked in and it fell out and went into my thumb. I had to get surgery, my tendons had to be stitched up in there. That was my first injury that took me out of a tournament in my athletic career. That was an interesting process, a lot of talking with God and trying to figure out what to do there.”
Martin missed only three weeks of action but was back in time for the Manhattan Beach Open as cheerful as ever.