Originally Published: March 7, 2016 11 p.m.
In the past we’ve had the likes of many very good tennis players come from our own little town, including the Howell Sisters - Shannon and Michelle (’83), Sterling Fetty and Cory Bennett (’99), Tobia Campbell and Mr. Clark (’06), all of whom won Arizona state high school doubles titles; Tricia Kempton who won three state singles titles and lost in the finals of a fourth (’96, ’97, ’99) - and currently Taylor Johnson who now lives in California - and it seems has qualified for the junior French and Wimbledon Championships for 2016.
And it seems there just might be another person on the horizon of tennis greatness, Ava Andrews, who will soon be 12 years old and has the right stuff to possibly head in the same direction if she so desires.
Coached by Sterling Fetty and her father, Jeff, little Ava has a pretty balanced life by the answers in her first tennis interview here in the Courier.
She goes to school at Granite Mountain School and is taking the next step in playing more tennis tournaments, training, strategy and match toughness.
Anything can happen at this point in one’s life, but the basics are in place, a super personality and mentality (which you can’t teach someone very easily) and a mom and dad - Jeff and Anessa - who do their best to give the right opportunities and guidance.
Here’s what Ava had to say:
1.) Give us a little background on who Ava Andrews is, where you go to school, how long you’ve been playing tennis and a bit about your parents who seem to nurture the process in a very positive way.
I was born and grew up in Prescott and am currently a sixth grader at Granite Mountain. I started playing tennis at the age of 9 with my dad. We would just go out on the courts and hit balls. I am an only child and spend a lot of time with my parents traveling and doing fun stuff.
2.) How did you get involved in the game of tennis and why do you like it?
My dad wanted me to play golf, but I thought golf was too easy. I also thought golf was very slow and boring, so he suggested we try tennis. I like tennis because it’s much faster than golf.
3.) How often do you practice - and tell us a little about the tennis events you’ve been attending around the state.
I practice three to four times per week. The last six-months I started to get more serious about the game and have been playing USTA sanctioned tournaments in the Phoenix area. The competition is really good and pushes me to improve my game.
I recently played and won a 2-1/2 hour match - the competition was awesome.
4.) At the tender age of 11, do you have any tennis goals you’ve set?
Yes. I’m hoping to be in the top 25 in the Southwest area before I turn 13. I would also like to travel out of state to play more tennis tournaments and see more places.
5.) Do you have any professional tennis players you’d like to meet - any that you style your game after?
Yes, many! For starters, Maria Sharapova. She’s tuff and a hard worker. She also has some cool Sugarpova Bubble Gum, which I’m bummed out that I can’t have anymore cause I just got braces. I would also like to meet Djokovic. I like his racquet and the way he plays. I have met Billie Jean King, but would like the opportunity to talk to her again and ask questions.
6.) What other hobbies are you involved in?
My most favorite thing to do is play tennis, but I play piano and saxophone, and also serve in student council at school. When there is ice in Prescott Valley you can almost always see me on the ice rink with my figure skates and then switching to my hockey skates to play some ice hockey. Since we don’t have ice very often, I play roller hockey. I like to ski, ride horses, and will golf periodically when my dad bribes me. I just like being active and having fun!
7.) It might be a bit premature since you’re only in sixth grade, but are you looking forward to playing high school tennis and, if everything keeps going well, college?
Yes, definitely. I plan to play high school tennis at Prescott High School. Then, hopefully collage tennis.
8.) What makes the game of tennis fun and exciting for Miss Ava?
I just like it. It’s fun to crush the ball and it’s really fun to aim and hit my coaches while they feed me balls.
9.) Some kids like team sports and others individual sports - any thoughts about that for you individually?
I like both, but team sports can be distracting for me if there are really loud and crazy kids. So I mostly like individual sports, then I don’t have to hear the other kids.
10.) How important have your mom and dad been in helping you with this endeavor and in what ways?
Really important. They take me to practices, out-of-town tournaments and buy me tennis shoes every few months cause I wear them out fast.
11.) Please give us any other information about you that our readers might like to know.
I like to have fun and act crazy. I love living in Prescott and am looking forward to starting Junior High this next school year.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or email@example.com.