Freshman Phenom: Matthew Mai
Seven years of tennis finally paid off for freshman Matthew Mai, the only freshman to make varsity tennis this year.
Mai’s family first inspired him to play tennis after he quit soccer and baseball in second grade.
With his parents’ advice and support, Mai came to love the new sport and have the encouragement to play.
“When I first picked up the racquet and ball, it felt really comfortable because I was trying something new and I just wanted to have fun with it. It was different from soccer and baseball because tennis is an individual sport,” Mai said. “My parents are definitely my biggest supporters for my career. Without them, I wouldn’t be at the level I am at today, and I wouldn’t have as much drive and determination to continue playing the sport. They give me the confidence to play in competition and make me push myself harder.”
At age 12, Mai joined a tennis club called Competition Training Center (CTC), located in Claremont, to improve his footwork, ball placement and focus. Now, with a La Habra Open Tournament championship under his belt and a 1-Star Tennis Recruiting Network Ranking, Mai continues to practice two to four hours a day aiming to get to a 2-Star Tennis Recruit.
“Being a part of CTC really helped push me harder into becoming a better tennis player in competition. It showed me that winning was always something that i needed to do when I competed and losing was always a learning process,” Mai said.
Even when tournaments get harder and the loss rate starts climbing up, Mai manages to pull through because of his love for the sport.
“I still play tennis because it’s something that I’m serious about, and my parents put their time and effort to put me at the level where I am today,” Mai said. “ I really love it because it’s a sport that has a combination of physical, mental, and technical skills, which make it challenging. Hitting the ball clean makes me feel proud of the amount of progress I made over the years.”
Now that Mai has made the varsity lineup, he has set new goals for the future. He aims to go to CIF with the team, place himself in higher ranks and hopefully play for UC Berkeley.
“Though this journey may be hard, I have faith in my teammates and know we will pull through,” Mai said.
By Albert Law, Staff writer