Wawasee Tennis

Interview With Katy Ashpole

Before I signed on to coach tennis at Wawasee, the first thing I wanted to do was to dig into its history as a program. To see where the program had been, where it was heading and who had been a big part of it. I think history is an important part of any program. You can learn from its past mistakes. You can adopt its successes and find the best path forward to better the program.

Katy Ashpole was part of that history by the time I signed on to coach. She was Wawasee’s #1 singles player and co-captain the year before. I had never crossed paths with her, but her name was one of the first mentioned in casual conversations around the courts. Everything I learned about her informed me that this was a young women who had left an indelible mark on the history of Wawasee tennis. As a leader, a mentor, a remarkable player and amazingly well-rounded person, Katy had dedicated herself to tennis and etched an amazing legacy on and off the courts.

As a 2014 graduate of Wawasee High School and its tennis program, Katy Ashpole committed to play for Manchester University and quickly ascended the ranks to play #2 singles during her freshmen year.

I caught up with Katy during her last home match of the year at MU and finally watched her play and met her in person. She graciously agreed to do an interview for Wawasee Tennis.

MJ-Katy-Ashpole-4-9-14-pdpSS: What initially drew you to the sport of tennis?

KA: My dad actually introduced me to tennis, because my brother played it. Therefore I had an interest as well.

SS: Growing up, did you have any particular role models or favorite tennis players that influenced you?

KA: My favorite player growing up was Roger Federer and I especially liked how he acted on the courts. Even though he is obviously a great player, he still acted courteous and humble.

SS: In your 4 years at Wawasee High School tennis, are there any particular memories that remain with you more than others? Please tell us about them.

KA: There are so many good memories I have of Wawasee tennis, but one of the memories that have stuck with me is during my freshman year of tennis, starting varsity which was really good and since I was on varsity, the older girls, who were mostly juniors and seniors, were really welcoming and nice. They helped me out and shaped my mental attitude that I used later when I had to be a leader on the team. I also remember during my senior year how much fun I had with the girls and everyone being serious, but also keeping everything light hearted.

SS: Can you tell us a little about the triumphs and struggles you faced in becoming #1 at Wawasee?

KA: One of the main struggles of being #1 is remaining mentally tough, because the players are the best of every team and want the win just as badly as you do. One of the triumphs for me was receiving honorable mention in the conference, which I was surprised to have received. It was a huge honor!

SS: What are you most proud of during your time at Wawasee high school’s tennis program?

KA: I’m proud of receiving the Warrior Way award my junior year and being honorable mention for the conference for my senior year. I’m also proud that everyone on the team, especially the returning girls, tried their hardest and remained mentally tough through last season.

SS: What made you choose Manchester University?

KA: I wanted a small college that paid attention to students individually and Manchester was a perfect fit for me. It also felt like a community full of nice people and so far I am not disappointed, I love it at Manchester.

SS: What was your biggest adjustment you had to make from playing tennis at the high school level to college?

KA: Mentally, it was a large adjustment because I had to play two matches back to back. I played doubles and then singles. Not only was it physically exhausting, but it was also mentally exhausting.

SS: An interesting connection you and I share is through your current coach, MU’s Eric Christiansen. We played together on the same high school tennis team and he later coached me during my senior year. What do you like most about Coach Christiansen?

KA: I like that I can talk to Coach about anything on or off the court. He is very approachable and believes in his players, which is great. He also obviously coaches tennis very well. He’s really a great guy.

SS: Wawasee High School has many new faces joining the tennis team this year. As a veteran of high school tennis, what advice would you give to those young women just starting out in the sport?

KA: I would say that they should stay mentally tough. Tennis is a sport that requires the players to stay mentally in the game. As soon as they lose their heads, they’re done.

SS: What knowledge or experience would you like to pass along to girls in high school programs who are thinking about continuing their tennis careers in college?

KA: I say that they should continue to play in college if they want to. The girls on the Manchester team are all very welcoming and nice and they were the reason I loved playing in college so much. Yes, I love the sport, but I loved my team more. So, if high school girls were going to continue in college, they have to have a strong love of the game .

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