Sara Washington’s start in tennis came in the sixth grade, at the same time she was playing soccer. When she arrived at Rosary Academy as a freshman, she chose to represent the Royals on the tennis court rather than the soccer field.
“What I enjoy the most about tennis is the individual aspect of the competition,” says Washington. “It’s just me against one person. I like the team aspect as well, but I like being on my own…being in my own head and just doing what I can do.”
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Now a senior, the singles player for Rosary feels that the mental preparation for a tennis match takes on more importance than the physical preparation, something that has been Washington’s toughest challenge as a player.
“Tennis is a very mental game. If you’re not there mentally, you’re not going to do well,” says the 17-year-old. “The mental aspect is the hardest. My teammates and coaches have been so positive, so supportive, and my parents, too. You just have to believe in yourself.”
Rosary’s head tennis coach, Debbie Simonton, knows that Washington’s raw talent and athleticism make her a force each time she steps on the court.
“Sara is a powerful left-handed player [who] has amazing talent in all parts of her game with an extremely punishing serve,” says Simonton. “When she is on her ‘A’ game, her fluid yet effortless grace around the court is very dominant.”
As Washington plays in her final year for the Royals, the varsity co-captain wants to prove her ability on the court, but will miss the relationships she’s developed with her teammates off of it.
“I’m going to miss…being our own little family,” says Washington. “Leaving some of the girls that I’ve gotten really close with, it’s going to be hard.”
In serving her community, Washington works with Buttervly, an organization that raises awareness and provides prevention education on the subjects of rape and sexual assault.
While she would love to continue to play tennis after high school, pursuing a career in the medical field remains her priority and passion.
But the life lessons from the game have left their imprint on Washington, reminding the Anaheim resident that no matter the score—or the situation—everything is possible.
“I think that tennis has taught me to always push through and have the confidence,” says Washington. “You should never give up.”
These same ideals are modeled for Washington by her grandmother, who remains her most influential role model.
“She had a really hard life growing up,” says Washington. “She always pushed through, even though things were very rough.
“Listening to her stories now really inspire me,” says Washington. “Even though things are hard, other people have it harder. Always be grateful for what you have. It’s possible to do everything, no matter how hard it seems.”