Eagle Spotlight of the Week: Ali Beavers
AMR: Can you tell me how you think you’re season is going thus far?
Ali Beavers: “I think it’s going really good. I think the team’s playing really well. I guess personally, I am playing the two spot this year which is a spot up from last year, and it’s a little more difficult with the people I’m playing. But overall I feel like I’ve been playing well and beating some good people.”
Since you competed mainly at No. 3 last year, was it a difficult transition for you to play No.2 this year?
“I guess the biggest difference is that number two players get a lot more balls back than number three players. With a number three player I could hang with them and they would eventually miss. With a number two they don’t make as many errors. So, I guess I had to really concentrate on my game in that way. I couldn’t just make careless errors at number two when at number three I didn’t have to worry about it as much.”
What did you work on during the off-season to secure the No.2 position?
“Over the summer I worked on a few different things. Being a power player I like to hit the ball hard. So I was working on slicing and basically being more consistent, which is why I think I’ve been able to play at two and not make as many errors.”
Can you tell me a little about your fall run in the ITA Southern Regional Tennis Championships?
“It was awesome. It was the best I’ve played probably in my life. There was a lot of rain that weekend so we had to play indoors, which I think was to my advantage because indoors the courts are faster and the girls can’t get to my balls because they are hit so hard. My first round I played against a girl from Auburn and I surprised myself with how well I did.
In my second match I went to three sets and the girl had some match points on me in the tiebreaker, but I hung in there. I took it one match at time and I felt like I played really good. And even though I probably could have made it to the finals because I did have about three or four match points in that final match that I loss, I think I played well anyway because I was down 5-2 in the second set. Just for me to come back and win that second set and make it go to a ten point tiebreaker was awesome. So overall, I think I played really good.”
Did you have any expectations going into the tournament?
“None at all. I told myself I was going to make it to the finals and so I guess I went in there with the right mentality. That made a huge difference. I surprised myself really. I kept the mentality throughout the entire tournament telling myself I’m not going to lose; I’ve got to get one more ball. That mentality channeled through me during the entire tournament.”
The team is facing College of Charleston on Wednesday which is always a tough match. What is the mentality of the team going into the match?
“We’re all really psyched about it. We all know that they’ve had a lot of the same scores of teams that we’ve beaten. Going into it we know that we’re all going to have to perform really well, so we’re ready for that. And it would be such a huge win for us. I’m so excited because I think that we can do it. One thing that’s so different about the team this year is that everyone has the right mentality and every single person on the team’s a fighter. We go out there and I think we surprise some teams because they don’t expect us to have the fight in us and the power to hang in there as long as it takes.”
How did you start playing tennis?
“My parents played tennis. Growing up in Tennessee we actually had a tennis court in our backyard. My parents, because they loved tennis, started me when I was two years old. They took me out to the court in the backyard and started pitching me balls. When my sister was six years old, she’s two years older than me, she started taking lessons and whatever Amy wanted to do I wanted to do. So I started taking lessons at four. And since then I just never stopped.”
With your mother playing college tennis, what kind of influence did she have on you?
“My mom’s always there for me emotionally. My dad is very technical. It’s weird because my mom actually taught my dad how to play tennis and eventually he got better than her. When I was little I would hit with both my mom and my dad. As I continued to get better they had this deal with me that if I could beat them in tennis they’d give me $100. So first it was my mom and then it was my dad. I guess they’ve both had an equal influence on me because they’re just really supportive. My mom knows what it’s like to play college tennis so she always understands me emotionally. When I get stressed out I can call her and talk about stuff.”
Do you still practice with your parents a lot?
“I hit with my dad a lot. It’s weird because I give my mom lessons. She wants me to give her tennis lessons now because her backhand’s a little weird. They actually taught themselves how to play tennis so they didn’t have lessons or anything. They put me in lessons and I was fortunate to have professionals tell me how to hit the ball. So I give my mom lessons and help her try to fix her backhand, but with my dad he’ll just hit with me.”
What aspect of the game is your favorite?
“I like the competitiveness of tennis. I guess it helps me get out a lot of stress most of the time. And I like the fight and battle to win, the process of it. I like being competitive.”
Your older sister Amy plays tennis at Gardner-Webb. First can you tell me what it was like to play against her earlier this season (even though you didn’t actually face her)?
“It was weird I guess because we’re both really competitive. I wanted my team to win and she wanted her team to win. I wasn’t going to cheer for her or against her. Molly [Maddox] played her in singles and last year she played Shea [Huxtable]. I didn’t cheer for Molly or Shea and I didn’t cheer for Amy. I was just silent.
So, it’s weird because I like to cheer for my teammates and with those people I didn’t say anything to them. It was weird afterwards too because my sister’s known for her grunt and some people were like, Oh, you’re sister’s grunt is so annoying.’ And I’m just like I know, sorry.’”
Were the two of you competitive growing up?
“Yes. We were very competitive. We used to have to play each other when I would move up to her age level because I’m two and half years younger. We had a couple times where we played each other in tournaments. I remember this one time when we had a five hour match. It was from 5 o’clock till 12 o’clock in the evening. And we split sets and neither of us just wanted to lose. It was just awful. We’re still competitive but we just let things go now.”
Since you’re not from Georgia, why did you choose Georgia Southern?
“I chose Georgia Southern because of the weather and the beautiful campus. I really like Coach Bonner and the fact that all of the girls are American was a huge part of it. Coming from Tennessee and being from a school where there are a lot of foreign girls on the team and just watching that, I knew that I didn’t want that.”
- Category: Women's Tennis
- Published on Wednesday, 15 April 2009 12:05