The Riverside freshman dropped only one game on her way to the District 2 Class 2A championship, beating Wyoming Area’s Brianna Pizzano, 6-0, 6-0, in the final.
Family: Mom, Christy; dad, Chad; brother, Tony
Favorite food: Probably steak.
Athletes you admire: I like Rafael Nadal and Angelique Kerber.
What is it that you like about those two? For Rafa, I like his forehand, because I do that, too, like how he whips it up.
Are you a lefty? No. I am not a lefty, but I still use it. He calls it the “Nadal Shot.” That’s what it’s known as. My coach taught me that and I use it a lot in my matches. And Kerber is a just a really good competitor.
Three people you’d like to have dinner with: Serena Williams, Rafa and Roger (Federer).
So, you’re all about tennis: Yeah, mostly. Yeah.
How’d you get into liking tennis so much? My mom introduced me to it. I started playing at Birchwood when I was 5, and then I just started playing a lot and I liked it a lot.
Did you know that you were pretty good at it right away? Not really. Not right away. I did it for fun for a while until like two years ago almost, when I found my new coach Todd Kane, and then I started becoming more serious about it. But before that it was a lot of fun.
So, you’ve only been really working at this thing for two years? Like, being very competitive with it. Before that, I played a couple tournaments, but not a lot.
Were you still winning? Not as much. When I first started tournaments, I was not winning a lot of them. Now that I’ve started training more and working harder at it, I’m winning a lot more.
Has that been a dream for a while? Yeah, definitely.
Do you have a favorite tennis shot? I like my inside-out forehand. So, I run around my backhand and then I hit it like (a) cross-court backhand, but it’s a forehand.
What about a shot that a pro-player has, whether it’s Rafa’s forehand or Federer’s backhand? Is there one that you like most? I like Rafa’s forehand.
How do you think you’d do against that forehand? Not very good. He’s obviously a lot stronger and it’s harder with a lot more spin. So, I would definitely struggle with that.
Have you gone to the U.S. Open? I went a couple years ago. I think twice I’ve gone. It’s really cool to watch them play. It’s really crazy to watch how they compete.
Do you think getting to that level is a goal for you? Yeah, definitely. I would like to do that some day.
Do you have a favorite movie? These kind of questions are always so hard for me, like favorite songs, favorite movies. … Elf is a good movie.
Do you even watch much TV or movies? Not a lot, really. I don’t really get a lot of time.
How much tennis do you play during the week? Every day, I play around three to four hours of tennis. Depends. Then I do like four hours of school work around that and also, a couple days during the week, I do conditioning and strength training so I don’t get injured and I can get stronger.
Is your brother older or younger than you? Younger. He’s 12.
Does he play tennis, too? Yeah.
Are you better than him? Yes.
Do you ever let him win? No.
Do you have to have that killer instinct to be good at tennis? Yes, you definitely have to be very competitive. Especially when you get in tight matches, that’s one of the most important things.
Do you think you have it, and how do you think you developed it? Definitely developed it more recently. I used to not have it as much.
You were too nice? I was way too nice before. Especially in the USTA tournaments, and stuff, you have to be very focused and very intense, because you get in a lot of tight matches.
What do you think made it change? Well, you definitely don’t like getting cheated, because you get cheated a lot. If you don’t stand up for yourself, especially in middle states tournaments, the kids will cheat you.
With in and out and stuff? Oh yeah. It’s bad. … Coach Kane definitely helped me with that, to be more competitive, like “You cannot just let this keep happening to you.” I was losing matches because of it. It just, I don’t know, it just gets in your head.
How many USTA tournaments have you played in? I’ve played, oh I can’t even count. Almost every weekend. We try to get in as many as we can, even if I don’t get points for them, sometimes we’ll go to the East or other divisions, so that I can just get the experience playing and competing.
You said you’re competitive. Are you competitive off the court, too? Definitely not as much, no.
You can just kind of shut it off? Yeah. When I’m playing other sports or games, yeah, I’m competitive. I’m a competitive person. But it’s a totally different thing on the court. I’m way more relaxed off the court.
Did we miss anything? I just want to thank Riverside, their whole district, they let me play and I’m just really thankful for that. Everyone at the school has been really supportive.
Because you’re a cyber student, right? Yes, I do cyber school, so the opportunity to play high school tennis and play districts and states was really cool. Everybody there has been really supportive, everyone on my team and coach (Robert) Thomas, they’ve been really great.