The next Williams
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As soon as you walk into the sport complex, the sound of sneakers screeching against a hard floor is exasperating to many people. In the locker room, where the smell of sweat invades your nostrils, girls are getting geared up for their practice, one even begins to do jumping jacks in the locker room. She begins to put on her white pleated skirt and tank top, and the final touch, a bright pink visor with her braided ponytail swinging left and right with every step she takes. Sophomore Sarah Badawi is ready for practice.
Having agreed to do an interview in the midst of her practice, we walk out of the locker room into a room with four full size tennis courts, plastered with the colors blue and white. The ceilings go monumentally high, but as you walk to the back of the room you notice a window covering almost half of the wall. Parents are sitting there, with straight faces waiting for their daughters to improve by each second. As soon as you look towards the door, a woman walks out, towering over anyone who stands below six feet. She has a stern look on her face, and wears a pair of black workout pants and a blue athletic top. Her shoes are decorated in black and blue and her visor is the shade of night. They call her Coach Simmons, and she is responsible for making these girls reach their highest potential.
“All right ladies, 12 laps around the courts, each lap under a minute,” Coach Simmons says, her voice booming throughout the large room.
Sarah leans over to me and says, “I know it seems extreme, but this is the place where champions come from.” And then she sprints off, the sound of her sneakers echoing off the floor.
Since 2005, Sarah has known tennis. Starting as a recreational sport, Hanan Badawi, Sarah’s mom, had never known that her daughter would be as successful as she is at age 15.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter, seriously, I’ve never been so proud in my life,” Hanan says.
Looking at Sarah practice, you can tell she’s no beginner when it comes to tennis, with every hit she screams out, showing her dominance over her opponent. She begins to run up and down the court, almost knowing where the ball is going to land before it even lands. She gains this sudden boost of confidence after every point she gets, and the more and more she gets, the harder and harder she plays.
Typically spending around three to four hours on this court every day, I begin to wonder how she can balance such a lifestyle, on top of tennis, she’s an avid pianist and is in all honors and one AP class. Just getting halfway through her sophomore year, Sarah seems like someone who has their life on track, and knows what they want.
“[Tennis] just became a lifestyle for me, something I’m used to, something I’m good at, something I know. It’s a normality for me now,” she says. “I did play state. With a freshman on the team who was absolutely amazing. We played doubles, her name is Kasia Treiber, she was awesome. We worked really well with each other and were really compatible with one another. We placed fourth.”
Although she has won many titles, she remains humble and rarely talks about her achievements.
“It’s just not that important to me, [tennis is] just my life,” Sarah said.
With hopes of becoming a captain next year, Sarah continues her practice, sneakers hurriedly pacing the ball.