Names can shape identity. Some kids are named after relatives or family friends, other names are hand-picked from trends. Senior golfer Annika Borrelli was named after renowned Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) player Annika Sorenstam, a decision made by Borrelli’s father. “My dad had this whole prophecy and it came true,” said Borrelli.
Despite starting at the age of three, golf wasn’t the only sport on this Bay Area native’s radar. Though she grew up playing soccer, basketball, softball, and volleyball, Borrelli committed to golf once she hit middle school. Her father, David Borrelli, who attended the University of California, Davis, found a passion for golf and mentored Borrelli her whole life. Residing less than an hour away from USF, he often caddies in her tournaments, coaching her through positive thinking and helping her read putts.
Borrelli attributes much of her success to her mentors. Sara Doell, USF’s head coach of the women’s golf team, is one of Borrelli’s greatest influences, and ultimately led her to choose USF over Davis. “She was a brand new coach at the time that I was recruited and I loved her vision,” Borrelli said. “I love how we hit it off right away, I could tell she would not only be a coach, but a mentor. And that all came true when I came here, I love the team dynamic that we have.”
“Team culture is so important to me, and Annika is that person [who] cares about her team way more than she cares about herself,” Doell said in an interview with Dons Athletics. “She’s that student athlete that’s taking that culture we’re trying to build here and she’s just pushing it forward.”
After being named to the All-West Coast Conference Team as a freshman and earning a top five finish at the WCC Championships, Borrelli would eventually earn the title of the Northern California Golf Association’s Player of the Year in 2019. In July 2021 she came full circle, winning the NCGA Women’s Amaetuer Championship.
“It was definitely very surreal and really exciting. It just felt like a lot of the hard work, a lot of the lows, and a lot of the mental breaking points all came together,” Borrelli said. “And in those tournaments, my dad was caddy. And for me, I had family close by too and I just never lost trust or confidence in myself. It was just like my foot was always on the pedal the whole time.”
Despite aspirations to reach the professional level and make it onto the LPGA, Borrelli prioritizes focusing on the smaller goals that will lead to her bigger picture. Upon receiving her undergraduate degree in business management this spring, she will continue by working toward her graduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley, where she will further her golf career in the Pac-12 Conference. Borrelli prioritizes a healthy lifestyle in terms of diet and working hard in practice, realizing the importance of strength and conditioning at the collegiate level to elevate her game.
As for her last semester at USF, Borrelli plans on cherishing her remaining time in the USF community and winning a tournament with her team. She says their performance in tournaments will help them reach regionals and that everyone has stepped up as players to contribute to a great dynamic.
Although Borrelli has always been in close proximity to San Francisco, she particularly appreciates the hidden gems near Ocean Beach and the Presidio, where she likes to hike and bike in her free time. She also enjoys bits of the USF community through involvement with Kasamahan and playing on the intramural basketball team.
In addition to her parents and her coach, Sorenstam, her namesake, has stood as an inspiration to Borrelli for her humility. This quality, along with integrity, have become more familiar values to Borrelli through golfing.
“In the game of golf, there are so many opportunities for you to find a way to go around the rules. It’s all on you, no one else is really checking. So most people in the game are very honest people and I think that’s a huge value that’s translated off the course into my everyday life. With school, with my relationships, with my family, I just try to be very transparent,” Borrelli said. “And then with humility, especially with the success that I’ve had over the past year, it’s not only made me more appreciative of the sport but more appreciative of the relationships and the opportunities that I have around me too.”