Tovah Stevens recalls being around the age of seven when she took a strong interest in the sport of tennis.
“I was trying to figure out which sport was right for me,” says Stevens. “I started playing some tournaments and met a few people, and it kind of caught on. It was from there it was really fun.”
A senior player for JSerra Catholic High School, Stevens’ passion for the game stems from the fact that she doesn’t view tennis as a typical youth sport.
“I think that it’s so different,” says Stevens. “It’s mentally and physically demanding…that’s what was really different about tennis for me.”
For a sport that is primarily individual, the 17-year-old enjoys the team aspect of representing the Lions.
“I’m going to miss the most having a team because tennis is such an independent sport, and I feel like having the team makes it such a more positive experience,” says Stevens. “So definitely [I will miss] just having everyone together.”
As a four-year varsity player, Stevens made an immediate impact on the team upon her arrival. And as captain for the Lions, she works to keep her teammates focused both on and off the court.
“Tovah is the consummate team player, willing to pair up with whomever the coaching staff requests,” says JSerra varsity girls tennis head coach, Kirk Orahood. “She is a very competitive and forthright opponent and will be a great addition to any university or college team she joins. We are very fortunate to have her as a four-year letterman at JSerra.”
The San Clemente resident plays several tournaments a year outside of school, facing opponents that are challenging. Balancing athletic commitments with her studies doesn’t always come easy, but Stevens feels it’s the sport that has made her more mentally strong.
“I think [tennis has] taught me patience, because tennis is mentally demanding,” says Stevens, “…so patience with other people and trying to deal with things that happen in school.”
Away from the court, Stevens has spent the last six years volunteering and serving her community alongside her mother through National Charity League, an experience she admits has helped to form and shape her view of life.
After graduation, Stevens is looking to continue to play tennis at either a NCAA Division III school or through a college club team, alongside studying biology.
She credits the incorporation of prayer into each match for keeping her and her teammates in the right competitive mindset. Her mentor is her father, a former collegiate tennis player himself, who has guided Stevens as she continues to navigate the sport.
“I think my dad inspires me a lot because he was a tennis player,” says Stevens, “…so he really has helped me get where I’m at today in tennis.”