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Featured Player : Kirsten Ward PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Kristen WardKirsten Ward is 13 years old and is a seventh grade student in the Laurel Springs Online Private School. Kirsten lives in Shelby, North Carolina and trains full-time with her coach & fitness trainer Scott Handback. The pair have worked together since Kirsten was eight years old.

"When I was four years old, I saw a tennis match on television and decided I wanted to try it" says Kirsten.

“I met my first coach Mindy Sells at a baseball game and took my first lesson. I loved it! Age : 13 (Rank G18s)
State : NC
State Rank : 24
Sect'l Rank : 131
Nat'l Rank:1325
She said I was a natural at it. I could not get enough of the game. I had a lot of fun hitting balls. At age 8, I started to work with Scott. It was a lot different. It was still fun, but I worked really hard and improved significantly. Very quickly I became one of the best players in the state for my age group. While I liked the success, I loved hitting and competing. I know tennis is the game I want to pursue. My dream is to compete on the same courts as Lindsey Davenport, the Williams Sisters and Maria Sharapova. A couple of years ago, I chose to begin online schooling and work with Scott full-time on my tennis. We have a full-schedule and the training is very intense. It is my choice to sacrifice social activities and time with friends to pursue my dream. We still have fun. Scott takes us to the lake to go tubing or skiing. We also go to movies and other activities. I really enjoy the other players who work with me.”

“I attend SCOBEN Tennis Academy, where I work with other players who have the same goals I do. I have a hitting partner who was a collegiate player that I drill with and play matches with each week. We work on technique of course, but there is a big focus on fitness training, psychological development and emotional development. Scott makes sure we learn about the game of tennis, not just how to hit a ball. I realize it is a hard, tough road to reach the top of the game, but with my skills and determination I know I can get there. I have always been given challenges. I don’t always succeed, but I never give up. I do not let failures destroy me. I use them as motivation to try even harder.”

Kirsten reached the top 150 in the USTA National Girls 12s singles in 2007 and #9 in USTA Girls 12s doubles with partner Samantha Light. Since that time, Kirsten has made several changes to her game. She now has a one-handed backhand and has competed in the Girls 18s for the past year. She is currently in the top 25 in North Carolina Girls 18s and Top 130 in the Southern Girls 18s with an eye on moving towards competing at the national 18s level later this year.

“We have never been worried about rankings with Kirsten,” says Kirsten’s coach Scott Handback, who is a USTA High Performance Coach and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist. “It has always been about development with her. We have always played her at a level that is consistent with her game as she improves. We initially played her in a local tournament in the 18s and figured she would struggle, but she has proven she can compete in the state and section in the 18s. She may not be at the top of those levels yet, but she can compete with them, which allows us to see what parts of her game still need to be improved. She has a different mentality than most young athletes, so her development pathway is different.”

Kirsten participated in many activities when she was younger such as basketball, flag football, soccer, baseball, playing the piano and violin and doing gymnastics and dance. She also spent a lot of time with friends having fun. Several years ago, she decided to focus on her tennis.

Kristen's FavoritesFavorite Food: Five Cheese Ziti at Olive Garden
Favorite Color: Sky Blue
Favorite Vacation: Disney World
Favorite Male Singer: David Archuletta
Favorite Book: Justinne Henin’s Tragedy and Triumph
Favorite Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean
Favorite Tennis Player: Roger Federer
Favorite Actor: Johnny Depp
Favorite Singer: Miley Cyrus
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2009 18:53
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