Originally Published: February 7, 2017 6 a.m.
Here's an up-date on the little girl who started her tennis career here in Prescott and has parlayed it to heights most only dream about - Taylor Johnson.
Now at the age of 16 Taylor has just returned home from playing in the girls 18-and-under at the Australian Open where she's catching up on school work currently. It's been very interesting to watch her development and see what it's taken at each step and level, the right coaches and coaching, attitude, discipline, family and parents, networking, money, time and a bit of luck.
Less than one percent of athletes in each sport obtain the necessary ingredients to reach the point Taylor is still working toward. She's come a long way and achieved goals that can only be admired.
Here are some questions Ms. Johnson answered about her time at the Australian Open that will give you some insight on her experience and bright future.
Q. Going to Australia is quite a long trip, how was it for you?
A: Yeah it was long! I slept most of the time though.
Q. Did you get there early enough to feel comfortable with your surroundings, the time zone and court conditions?
A: Yeah I got there about a week early!
Q. It was really neat to get to watch your matches on ESPN - does playing with cameras moving around take a bit of getting used to?
A: Thank you! It was pretty cool to have cameras on the court, I honestly try not to pay attention to them - haha.
Q. You were seeded #2 in singles and are now ranked #10 in the ITF, is there extra pressure to succeed with the higher ranking and being one of the top seeds?
A: Of course there is going to be some extra pressure you put on yourself, but I tried to not focus on the seedings or my opponents and just take one point at a time.
Q. This year at the Australian you made it to the 3rd round in singles and quarter-finals in doubles, certainly everyone goes in expecting to win each match - you have to - are you good with your results?
A: I mean you have to hope for the best so I was hoping to do better, but it was a great experience overall.
Q. It was noticed you had a group of fans cheering for you during some of your matches - how does that feel, not to mention being asked for autographs?
A: Yeah I had a fanclub there! I love having people cheering so it was awesome.
Q. Lots of great matches in the professional part of the tournament with an all Williams final, Federer and Nadal which was iconic...did you watch much of the history unfold - and your thoughts?
A: I got to watch the semifinal match Coco vs Venus and it was an awesome experience! Trying to learn as much as I can from these legends!
Q. Did you play any lead-up tournaments over in the area before playing the Australian?
A: Yeah one
Q. Will we be seeing you at the French, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year?
A: Yep, I'll be there!!
Q. Who are you currently working with (as coaches) and what's a normal tennis day for Taylor Johnson? A: Rosie Casals, Erik Kortland, Billie Jean King. I usually do fitness from 8-9, tennis from 9-11, fitness from 11-12 then a break and then tennis from 1-3
Q. I noticed you tend to serve and volley. What style of tennis player do you consider yourself and why?
A: I consider myself an aggressive player. I love to come to net, and I love to serve and volley.
Q. It has to be quite expensive to go to all of these tournaments - what does the USTA do to help your cause?
A:Yeah, a lot of the times the USTA has trips and takes players, but to Australia I went with my coach Rosie Casals.
Q. Australian Open thoughts?
A: I loved it there! Was a great experience and I loved everything about Australia
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.