While a few friends and acquaintances succumbed to the never-ending chase for adoration, adulation and scholarship dollars, Erica Medlin instead believes in the “F-word:”
Good old-fashioned fun.
The Mesquite senior saw her older brother quit from burnout through tennis. Being home-schooled combined with playing non-stop soured her brother (9 years older), but the sport was still in the family. Besides her brother, dad played racquetball and her uncle played tennis, and Medlin was roped in.
Even with extra practices, tournaments and USTA outings, lessons learned from her brother stuck. Erica even took a practice or a whole week off on occasion.
“I honestly think that’s what kept me in it,” she said. “Whenever I play that much I get tired of the sport and it’s no longer fun, and that’s what I want it to be. I know a lot of people who don’t feel like that.”
Low and behold, it’s worked. The 2011 Tribune Girls Tennis Player of the Year was the No. 2 seed in this year’s Div. I singles state tournament, and took third place after falling in three sets to eventual champion Mariely Hassey (Peoria Centennial).
It wasn’t her first letdown. She fell in last year’s singles championship match to Corona del Sol’s Kelsey Lawson, lost to Lawson in the semifinals as a sophomore and to Shawni Porter (Mountain View) in the quarterfinals as a freshman.
Anyone who’s followed high school tennis the past four years, including Medlin, knows what kind of company that is. She was a nearly unanimous choice by East Valley tennis coaches as the best player on this side of town this season.
“Based on those who’ve beaten me, I’m pretty happy with my actual career,” she said. “... I’m a little disappointed because it would have been cool to win it my senior season. It was my goal. I don’t think there’s much else I could have done because I played one of my best matches (against Hassey), but I’m a little disappointed.”
She’s won a couple USTA tournaments this spring, and continues to hit balls. But she’s temporarily slowed her regiment before heading to San Jose State this fall.
The combo-platter of school, tennis, a new environment and being on her own is nerve-wracking, but her reminiscing led to another slip of the “F-word,” she wants to have stick with her at the next school.
“I played high school because I thought it would be fun to be part of a team,” she said. “It’s such as an individual sport but it’s more relaxed and fun. I think it helped me. It made me relax a little more and made it more fun being part of a team. It kind of reminded me why I play the sport. I had a really good time.”