Q: How long have you been playing tennis?
A: Six years.
Q: Did you expect, when you started, to be as good as you are now?
A: No. I was terrible when I started. I was very uncoordinated. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t ever think I’d get the hang of it, but here I am now. So I’m very happy it clicked.
Q: Why did it click? How did it click for you?
A: A lot of practice. My dad would take me out for like four hours every day, and we would just hit and hit and hit until I could do it right. There was no natural talent for this. It was a lot of hard work and practice.
Q: Was there ever a point where you thought, “I don’t want to do this anymore because I’m not as good as I could be? I should just find something else to do?"
A: Many, many, many times. It’s not an easy sport. Many people quit early on, but I just kept on sticking with it.
Q: Did you expect to do so well as early in your career as you did?
A: No, honestly. The girl I lost to last year at region finals, she always was an obstacle I was hoping to overcome this year. I did not, honestly, believe I would be able to beat her, but then I did, and that was kind of impressive. I didn’t even think about states [because] it was always, “Region finals, region finals, I’ve got to beat this girl.” Then when I made it to the state finals, I did not expect to make it that far, even a little bit.
Q: When you went into that region championship, because it was a rematch of your loss last year, did you know what you had to do to beat her this time?
A: Yes. My dad and I discussed all year long what skills I would need to be able to beat her. I just had to remember how to stay patient and play my game.
Q: What was it that you did that helped you end up beating her?
A: I was much more patient. I was much more match ready. Last year I didn’t have much experience with matches. This year, I had a much more consistent ball that went in at a higher percentage. I was able to do more things. I just had many more skills this year than I had last year.
Q: You said you didn’t expect to make it to states. So were you especially happy that you did make it to that point?
A: I wish I could’ve won it, because I wanted that pretty bad. It’s kind of a downer to have the title of state finalist instead of state champion. That just sounds so much cooler. I know my dad and my coaches believed I could get that far, but I don’t think I ever believed I could get that far, so when I did it was really exciting, really awesome.
Q: Do you feel like you’ve gained any more confidence since you did get there?
A: Yeah. The final was kind of crushing because it was so close. It’s easier when you’re blown out of the water, because you’re like, “Oh, there’s nothing I could do.” But when it’s so close, you’re thinking, “Maybe I could’ve done this, maybe I could’ve done that.” A few different decisions and I may have come out state champion. So that was a bit soul-crushing. But after a few days, I realized, “I made it to the state finals. That’s pretty good.”
Q: Does that mean you realize you have a shot to bring home the state championship next year, and is that your goal?
A: Definitely. That’s my goal. I’m gonna come out swinging, and hopefully I can get the championship next year, or senior year. One of these years would be good.
Q: Who was your biggest competition this year?
A: I think I would say both girls [Blacksburg’s Haley Freeborn in the region and Hanover’s Raine Weiss in the state finals]. … But the girl in the state final, she was definitely my toughest competition. … There were just a couple things that she did better than me, and she ended up with the match.
Q: Was your goal at the beginning of the season to make states, or did you have other goals for yourself?
A: My goal was to be undefeated this season. I had a couple lapses this season, so that didn’t happen. But the big goal was to make it to states the entire year, although I never thought of [it as] making it to states; I always thought about it as winning regions. I forgot that was kind of the next step. The whole season it was beating that Blacksburg girl.
Q: How have you improved this season or in your career?
A: This year, I think I’ve become more match ready. I think I’ve learned how to concentrate the entire length of the match. I really had to learn how to concentrate even in matches I knew I could easily win. And I think my serve has definitely improved this season. It’s way more consistent than it was at the beginning. I think that was due to me playing a lot more matches and not being as nervous.
Q: What sets you apart from other players?
A: I hit harder than other girls. That can be an advantage at times and a detriment other times, because I can try to hit too hard. I have a pretty decent baseline game. I’m trying to open it up to the net. But I can grind at the baseline. I can scrap. I can get a lot of balls that some girls can’t get to.
Q: What are you doing this summer?
A: I’m an assistant coach for a tennis team at Boonsboro. I help these little kids, and they call me Coach Megan. It’s the most adorable thing ever. Mostly tennis. Preparing for next year when hopefully I can be state champion. Swimming, tennis, hanging out with friends.
Q: How about during the school year, what do you do for fun?
A: I kind of have no life. I like playing with my siblings. Reading is a huge hobby of mine. I’m always reading.
Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: That’s tough. “Harry Potter.” So good.
Q: What’s your dream vacation?
A: For a week, going to Spain and touring Spain and France.
Q: What’s your favorite subject?
A: Math. All the math.
Q: Who’s your favorite athlete?
A: Roger Federer. He’s got to be my favorite male tennis player. And favorite female tennis player has got to be Naomi Osaka, even though she hasn’t been playing well the past couple months. I really like how humble she is.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
A: A cute boy.
Emily Brown covers the Hillcats, ODAC and high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5529.