Tanya Hetlinger has been unstoppable in the No. 1 singles position for the Pusch Ridge Christian Academy girls tennis team.
Hetlinger, a junior, is undefeated in singles competition this year, and also has plenty of responsibilities off the court.
Hetlinger lives with and helps care for her grandmother, Marcia, who broke her back three years ago.
“I’ve been her main caretaker,” Hetlinger said. “I’ve learned to be more responsible. . . . (My grandmother) definitely is the most influential person in my life. She taught me everything and made me go to my first tennis lesson when I was 10.”
On the court this spring, Tanya’s key wins came against St. Gregory’s defending Class 1A state champion Rachel Rosenberg and avenging a 2008 Class 2A/3A state tournament quarterfinal loss to Phoenix Country Day’s Kendra Simon.
“I think I played a lot smarter,” Hetlinger said of her rematch with Simon. “I didn’t play as frustrated and I was more strategic. She hits a lot harder and I had to be more patient.”
Hetlinger credits her strong spring play to improved confidence, a better backhand and better footwork.
Practicing at the Randolph Tennis Center for seven years, Hetlinger began helping out at the center as a coach last year as part of community service for a Bible course at Pusch Ridge. Hetlinger taught one class to 5-to-7 year olds and one lesson to kids her own age.
“I don’t know if I want to be a coach (long term), but it taught me how much fun it is to be a coach,” she said. “I’ll do it again after I graduate.”
Hetlinger is looking forward toa tennis camp this summer at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where she is considering going after graduating from Pusch Ridge.
“I’ll see what it’s like and have a better idea if that’s what I want to do,” she said, adding she’d like to study pre-med in college.
Lions tennis coach David Towne said Hetlinger “has run with the baton” since taking over the team’s top spot after last year’s graduation of stars Mya Towne and Jamie Shepherd.
“She’s the top dog and she’s taken the leadership role,” Towne said. “From her ground strokes to her serve, she has a complete game and I predict she will go far in state.”
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.