Two-Sport Star Aney Chooses Tennis and Tar Heels
by Colette Lewis
, 28 March 2014
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Leading Minnesota's high school hockey league in scoring is no small achievement, but 2014 scoring champion Jessie Aney will be hanging up her skates in 2015 and heading south to join the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Aney, who will turn 16 next month, has played both hockey and tennis for Century High School
in Rochester, although she takes classes online via the Minnesota Virtual Academy. A state high school singles and doubles champion, Aney managed to juggle hockey, tennis and academics so successfully that she is now completing her junior year, and plans to enter the University of North Carolina in the fall of 2015.
"When I visited I loved everything about it - the coaches, the girls on the team, the way they run the team, and the academics were amazing," says Aney, who also considered Georgia, Nebraska and Minnesota, with the final choice between the Bulldogs and the Tar Heels.
"I did my research before, and I've talked to people, and everybody there just loves it, so I thought it would be perfect. Everything fit right."
Aney, who scored 51 goals and had 58 assists this season, plans to play high school hockey again in her senior year, but says it was unrealistic to entertain thoughts of playing both sports at the Division I level.
"It was tough to decide I'm not going to play hockey after my senior year anymore, but I think it was the right decision and I'm looking forward to focusing more on tennis."
Aney appreciates the team aspect of hockey, and she could share the experience with her older sister Katie, now a senior and the second leading scorer in the state this year. Once the season ends every February, Aney returns to tennis with a fresh outlook.
"I mostly focus on hockey during those months," says Aney, a Top 10 blue chip recruit. "I don't play any tennis tournaments really, except a few sectional ones sprinkled in. But it's nice, I get a little break from the competitive tennis schedule - all the traveling and stuff. I get to have fun and be a part of a team. I've really gotten to enjoy the team atmosphere. I know what it's like to be on a team and I really just love that, and am really excited about that in college tennis."
But the independent thinking tennis requires also appeals to Aney, who believes college tennis will give her the perfect competitive combination.
"I like the team atmosphere, but I also like competing by myself," says Aney, who was Sports Illustrated's SportsKid of the Year in 2010. "It takes so much mental energy, but I like it, the pressure. But I also like being a part of a team and just playing for a team. I think college tennis is a really good mix of both. You're playing by yourself but you're also representing your team, fighting for your team."