Tennis is my reality. It all started the summer of 2008. I came home to my parents with a flyer presenting a tennis camp at Corona del Mar High School. I rushed home in excitement and showed my family what I really wanted to try. In no time I was on the hard courts swinging away at balls and playing games with many other people my age. I was very serious about winning these games and I was fiercely competitive. I knew that day that I wanted to play tennis. When I said play tennis to my mom, I meant serious tennis. Coach Brian Ricker who was watching me play recommended to my mom that I should take a few lessons from Coach Amy who coaches the boys tennis team. After my lesson with Coach Amy, Amy wanted to talk to my mom. Amy asked, "How many lessons has Olivia taken before?" and my mom replied, "zero." Amy told my mom that I definitely have talent, not to worry about being a late starter, and that I can definitely achieve a college scholarship. Ever since that day of playing tennis, I always look for advice from tennis professionals and take any opportunity I can to learn more about tennis in order to improve my game. I have always been skilled with exceptional hand eye coordination. At my friend’s birthday parties, I have been given tons of requests to win certain toys from the claw arcade machine for them. I picked out the toys my friends desired and won them for them in a short amount of time by adjusting the claw to seemingly impossible toys stuck and surrounded by other large, bulky, or even small stuffed animals or solid toy cars. On Halloween 2010 at Knott's Scary Farm, I won an electric guitar at a shooting game. I later donated it to Orangewood Children's Home Christmas 2011.
I started out as a Freshman with an unquenchable thirst for tennis. Whenever I played, I always watched the ball as best to my ability and cues from my opponent. I am always so focused that whenever I play tennis I feel as if nothing else exists and that I can do anything on the court. I cannot live without tennis; my love and dedication to tennis do not stop at just being on the court playing, but extend to a constant desire to improve, battle and contribute to the success of my team. Tennis is my dream, my aspiration and the love of my life. Tennis is always exciting and fun for me - never boring.
With tennis, I always look for new ways to improve. I take every chance to improve on the court both physically and mentally so ever since the first day I played I have been reading many tennis novels such as Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert and Steve Jamison, Serious Tennis by Scott Williams, The Art of Doubles by Pat Blaskower, The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey and many more. I collect tennis magazines such as Inside Tennis, Smash, USTA Magazine, TENNIS, and newsletters about tennis from Racket Club of Irvine, Newport Beach Tennis Club, and The Tennis Club. I watch tennis matches on YouTube and pay close attention to small details such as their footwork, where their hands go, follow through of their swings and other strategic aspects of their games. I watch how points are played out of tennis for at least 30mins to an hour every day. I watch USPTA videos including “On Court with uspta” that teaches about Tennis: In The Balance with bonus interviews and extended lessons.
In my free time, I hit against the wall to nail down my technique. I hit with many friends and hitting partners about every day. I play against the ball machine and members of local tennis clubs. I know many people from Newport Beach Tennis Club including John Michael, George Tate, Craig Johnson, Scott Davis, and others. I am friends with many members including Sammy Vergara, Ross Townsend, Robert Charest, Margie, Cenmar and more. I also enjoy playing tennis at The Tennis Club and RCI where I hit with other juniors and adults often. I work on the Eye Coach everyday which is even better than hitting against a wall.
That flyer changed my life. I tried to play tennis whenever I could and many people told me that what I was doing was boring. I did not let them discourage me and I always feel uplifted whenever I play tennis. As a freshman I tried out for Corona del Mar High Schools’ girls tennis team. Coach Brian at first told my parents it would be much easier for me to earn a scholarship through other sports such as track or water polo, but at tennis he said I would be defeated by girls who have played all their lives with major experience. My mom told him, “We will see if she has character.” Coach Brian decided to give me a chance and I was accepted as 62 out of 63 on the entire tennis team placed on Frosh/Soph. I decided to work hard on my tennis. I played with friends, against ball machines and walls, and learned as much as I could. I spoke with Gail Glasgow who told me that I can earn a tennis scholarship, but if I want to go pro, I must play 3 hours of tennis every day and 5 hours on the weekend. She competed in Wimbledon three times, including a mixed doubles match against Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert.
That same year I began playing USTA tournaments which was heaven for me. I love competing and even when I am down by several games, I always try and never give in. At a tournament, I played Madeleine Hayward whose grandmother is Julia Sampson, a renowned pro player who reached the final of the Australian Open in 1953. I had only been playing tennis for a few months when I defeated Madeleine Hayward who had played tennis all her life. Coach Brian honored me by announcing to CDM’s tennis team that I defeated a player on J.V. The next year as a sophomore, I was playing Junior Varsity #1 Singles. As a junior I played #1 Singles on the girls Varsity team. I started out as #62 out of 63 girls on the tennis team and two years later I was playing #1 on our varsity team; an improvement that only encouraged me that I could reach my dream of playing for a good Division 1 team and eventually go pro.
I am very fortunate to have solid communication and social skills as I have been successful at creating new friendships and keeping them. I have played in USTA tournaments where I meet players and hit with them an hour before our matches. We stick together and sign up for doubles or mixed doubles in the same tournament and also new tournaments to come.
One match I played was Dana Hills Easter Jr. Satellite Tournament where I overcame myself. This match I played was in the Quarterfinals against Tessa Hurr, an experienced soccer player who started playing tennis before me. I was upset on the switchover because I lost the first set 3-6 and was down 0-3 in the second set. I decided that I can still play my best regardless of the score. I held myself in my arms and forgot about the emotions that were holding me back. My sole purpose was to focus on the ball and only the ball and what my opponent was doing with it. I entered a new way of thinking because of my determination. I truly overcame my small unimportant doubts and I felt that I was playing on a new level. I believed that no matter what I could pull through with my best effort. I won a game that changed the score to 1-3. The scoreboard fluctuated to 1-4, then 2-5. Tessa only needed four more points in a row to win the match. I didn’t give up and with my persistence I won 5 games in a row. I battled through the quarters with tears in my eyes, fatigue through my body, sweat on my face and attention on the ball. My score resulted as 3-6, 7-5, 10-2 in the tiebreaker. I learned from that match that the only thing that matters is for me to have confidence in myself and build more confidence with more practice and intensity. I learned to not become too happy or sad whenever I win or lose a point and that every shot tells a story.
To this day I have several tennis journals, in which I record advice from coaches and pros such as Taylor Dent, how I played my matches, notes from Winning Ugly and other books as well as short term goals that I want to reach and I then mark them off and add new goals.
From a young age I have always been very athletic. I have been swimming for more than 4 years. I swim to cross train for tennis. I love swimming and it is great fun for me. It works all of the muscles in the body because I do a variety of strokes. Swimming can develop general strength, cardiovascular fitness and endurance. I enjoy other sports such as skiing, yoga, gym, gymnastics, ballet, running and karate. I had a short entertainment career which helped me rid of my emotions and keep calm with a clear mind. I naturally have a fierce competitive appetite. My grandfather and uncle were both military officers. Everyone on my mom’s side of the family is super athletic. My cousins Alex and Paul enjoy extreme sports. I always ask for tips and opportunity to hit with neighbors, friends, members and professionals to improve my game.
Tennis gives me purpose and my academics give me strength. College to me sounds like a new adventure, a haven where I can compete in Women’s Tennis, where I can continue my studies to become even more knowledgeable and make new memorable friendships. I am very excited to start the next chapter in my life and I am so grateful to have met several coaches and to become acquainted with new ones during this recruiting process. I am open to all different types of schools regardless whether it is small or large. If the school and athletic program are for me, I am definitely willing to move out of state.