Blog: Dome Stories
With her big blue eyes, sandy-blond hair and quiet demeanor, she’s the picture of a polite teenager.
Except when she’s on the tennis court. That’s when 13-year-old Nikki tears it up with a fierce forehand and disciplined determination. This tournament-winning teen has been playing since she was five years old. And now, eight years later, she spends every day after school at the Fred Wells Tennis Center. The temperature-controlled air dome ensures she doesn’t miss a single opportunity to improve her game.
“I like that tennis is an individual sport – where you get to make your own decisions,” she said. “I want to play in college and then go on to win a Grand Slam. Or at least make it in there.”
It’s big ambition for a young woman. And she appears to have the necessary grit and steel to keep sharpening her game. “I need to work on my footwork. I’m too slow. Everyone I train with tells me that,” she said.
But she’s not so slow that she doesn’t win. One of her most memorable tournament matches happened when she was ten. She’d made it to the finals and was slamming it out with an opponent for three-and-a-half hours – a long time for a ten-year-old. Ultimately she lost and her competitor went on to win the top prize.
However, that marathon match gave her satisfaction and pride in performance. She cherishes the trophy she brought home from that tournament. “I fell asleep with it in my arms,” she said.
The daily ritual of coming to the tennis dome after school doesn’t seem to tire or bore her. As she waits for her court time, she stays busy with homework and time in the club’s gym. “I’ve gotta improve my footwork,” she said. Spoken with the discipline of a champ.