It took stepping away from tennis for several years for Natalie Tran to realize that the sport was her passion all along.
“I first started playing in first grade,” says Tran. “I was very young, and I loved playing tennis. It was probably one of my favorite sports.
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“After that, I quit, and I felt like I lost something—something was missing from a part of me. So I started playing again in eighth grade, and I found my love for it again.”
The Mater Dei High School senior is a varsity doubles player for the Monarchs and appreciates the bonding that has occurred with her teammates in a sport that is often viewed as an individual endeavor.
“I love the energy,” says the 17-year-old. “Everyone gets along very well. We have great sportsmanship.”
Tran approaches tennis by working to keep things in perspective, whether she’s navigating the sting of a loss or leading her younger teammates.
“No matter what, I always have a positive attitude,” says Tran.
Mater Dei’s head varsity tennis coach, Mike Moorewood, says that in her final season with the Monarchs, Tran’s leadership and ability to connect with her teammates has been invaluable.
“Natalie’s strong personality and sense of humor enables her to befriend all of the kids on the team,” says Moorewood. “Her energy and spirit are what lift us in practice and through our tournaments and matches. She is not only important to the team on the court, she is important to us off the court as well.”
Tran recognizes that being a part of a team and keeping that positive attitude is essential beyond the game.
“Being a team is very important. You have to depend on other people, and they can depend on you too,” says Tran. “Encourage other people to do what they love…just be positive, no matter what.”
Away from the tennis court, Tran enjoys drawing and swimming and serves the special needs community through the Autism Awareness Club on campus, a cause that’s close to her heart.
“They give me such joy,” says Tran of working with special needs kids.
Tran plans to study engineering in college, and the Orange resident would love the opportunity to compete in tennis as well, but is happy to keep her focus on academics.
When it comes to both tennis and life, Tran’s parents are the ones who continually guide her path.
“They are there for me, no matter what, and they encourage me to try new things,” says Tran of her mother and father. “They make sacrifices for me, and I’m so grateful.”
Additionally, Tran’s faith gives her the assurance that her future is in good hands.
“I believe in the phrase, ‘God has a plan for you,’” says Tran. “He is planning something great for me, I know.”