When Selma Cadar travels on the road with her Maryland women’s tennis teammates, she shares her poetry.
Cadar, a graduate student from Romania, completed her undergraduate English literature and language program at Maryland this past spring. Cadar is one of the Terps’ top players — ranked No. 38 in NCAA doubles — but her first passion was poetry and literature.
“I’ve been passionate about literature ever since I was small,” Cadar said. “I enjoyed … trying to say [something] beyond the words. Words have so many meanings and they can shift, so I think I wanted to continue that passion here.”
Cadar’s love for literature began as a child when her mother would read her fairy tales before bed. She’d stay up late into the night reading after her mother left the room. Literature was Cadar’s favorite subject in school, she said, as she particularly enjoyed critically thinking about and analyzing texts.
She used to take a notebook to tennis tournaments, listening to classical music while jotting down her thoughts and writing poetry between matches.
She’s competed in and won national poetry competitions in addition to tennis ones, but that appreciation for poetry didn’t always reach Cadar’s parents, who were confused when she read them her poems, she said.
Still, Cadar continued to write. At one point, she won a competition where participants wrote poems based on themes in a Romanian poet’s work.
Cadar, who began her tennis career at Miami before transferring to Maryland in 2021, chose English literature and language as her major while with the Hurricanes. For her, studying the subject hasn’t seemed like “work” as she enjoys what she does.
“I’ve read a lot of Selma’s poetry and it’s quite powerful, and she’s really bright,” Terps coach Katie Dougherty said. “I was an English major too … She’s a much better writer than I was. It’s great to see that side of her too, that you’re not just this athlete, that she has this wildly creative side.”
In her poem “Love Story of,” Cadar tells a story from the fictional queen Scheherazade’s point of view. In One Thousand and One Nights, an Arabian king vows to have a new wife every night but falls in love with Scheherazade after she tells him countless stories across 1,001 nights.
She uses rich imagery in her writing, describing the two lovers as “drunk with the sea breeze,” and attributing human emotions to the sea as it shakes its ridges.
Cadar’s doubles partner Mary Brumfield said teammates will often read Cadar’s work, and in turn, she’ll ask them for feedback.
“She’s very poetic,” Brumfield said. “I think it goes on to the court as well. Just the way she plays is very poetic and the way she uses her words as well.”
Cadar hopes to play tennis professionally, she said. She participated in professional tournaments this past summer, and earned her first professional ranking. But once her athletic career ends, she has a passion to fall back on that’s brewed in her since childhood.
“In the long term after I finish my tennis career, I would like to be somewhat in the literature field,” Cadar said. “Maybe be a critic and continue writing, reading and analyzing texts.”