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Hot 100 List - July '17
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Skyrocketing temperatures mean relaxed pool days for many young students. Tennis players, however, are taking advantage of their summer vacation to get out on the court. We caught up with a few players who performed well over the past month - in the July edition of the Hot 100.

The Hot 100 lists are published each month, and the July Hot 100 lists feature the one hundred boys and girls who most improved their rankings during the month of June. You can find out more about the Hot 100 - and how the lists are calculated - by reading here.

The latest lists, published today, are available here:

We talked to a few of these top performers…

 

Roundup

 

Samantha Mannix (Elkhorn, Neb.)

Four-star rising senior Samantha Mannix recently took six months off of tennis due to an injury. While this put Mannix at a disadvantage, she did not let the time off set back her game.

Four-star senior Samantha Mannix

“She worked out with her physical therapist as hard as she would have on the tennis court during that time,” her mother, Tina Schwahn, said. “I believe that her efforts to increase her strength and flexibility during that time off served her very well when she was ready to return to the game.”

Samantha Mannix credits the support she received during this time for her more recent success. “I believe the time dedicated to improving my game and my support system of coaches and family have helped me achieve my recent success,” she said. “After taking time off last year, my coaches and family have worked to give me the best opportunities to compete at a higher level.”

Mannix was able to ease her way back into competitive play with her Elkhorn South High School tennis season in the spring before she re-entered USTA competitions. She works with Steve Bischof at Elkhorn South High and two private coaches at the Woods Tennis Center, Talor Wain and Kevin Heim.

Currently, Mannix and her coaches are working on her backhand, consistency and aggressiveness. They focus particularly on Mannix’s mental game.

“[Wain] has been pushing me to understand the strategy of how a point will play out,” she said. “Eventually, I want to be able to predict the result of hitting certain shots, instead of just playing without thinking it through.”

The six-foot player’s dedication has paid off in strong results. She competed in two USTA tournaments last month and won both events. She earned a 9-0 record for the month and jumped into the top 100 of the Senior Class Rankings.

Mannix says her best win of the month came in the finals of the USTA Missouri Valley Summer Sweet 16 Tournament. She competed against five-star recent graduate Caroline Pozo, who is committed to Northwestern University. The two have encountered one another many times over the years, each coming out on top at various times.

“This specific match was extremely close and very competitive,” Mannix said. “With the final score being 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, I was very happy with the respect and high-level competition within the match.”

Mannix is thinking seriously about college, and she believes her passion for competition will set her apart from other recruits.

“I am an extremely competitive person, and competing is why I love to play,” she said. “Of course I love winning, everyone does, but my main goal is to play my best and represent myself as a great player and person.”

 

Demi Snyder (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)

Four-star rising junior Demi Snyder is a player who balances many responsibilities along with her tennis schedule. Unlike some players at her level, she attends school full-time at Pine Crest High School, where she maintains a 4.97 GPA and takes primarily AP classes.

Four-star junior Demi Snyder

Snyder also participates in several extracurriculars, works part-time at her family’s resort business, and was recently chosen by Walter Duke, a City Commissioner candidate of her district, to help run his campaign.

On top of all this, Snyder helps her single mother raise her younger siblings. She even shares her love of tennis with her 12 year-old sister, Danielle.

One would think that this balancing act would adversely affect Snyder’s game, but her mother, Debbie Snyder, has witnessed the opposite happen.

“Because she is such a leader and role model at home, it is natural for her at school and on the court,” Debbie Snyder said. “She did not let the adversity get her down but instead chose to focus the energy on her school work and tennis.”

Demi Snyder works with coaches Melinda Czink and Ian Barstow at her family’s resort, the Lago Mar Resort and Club in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They are currently working on a variety of Snyder’s skills.

“Right now I am working on improving all aspects of my game because all of the great players are always improving,” she said. “I am working on hitting the ball even heavier, taking the ball earlier, and always going for more. I am also working on incorporating more change of rhythm into my play, such as slices and drop-shots.”

Snyder won both tournaments she entered last month, including the USTA Bobby Curtis Sectional Championships. She earned a 9-0 record for the month of June.

One win in particular stuck out to Snyder. She met five-star rising sophomore Gabriella Giraldo in the semifinals of the USTA Bobby Curtis Sectional.

“I am most proud of this win because I showed my character, relentlessness and refusal to give up by coming back from being down 3-5 in the first set to then win the next ten games in a row and take the match, 7-5; 6-0,” Snyder said. “This match was the one that gave me the confidence I used to win the entire tournament.”

Even with her balancing act of school, tennis and family obligations, Snyder finds time to enjoy several extracurriculars. She plays cello in her school’s honors orchestra. She is also nearly fluent in Mandarin, which she uses to make friends with the Chinese players she comes across during tournaments.

With Snyder’s success in a variety of activities, she has high hopes for college. She has her sights set on an ivy-league education.

“I am really interested in a school that can provide superior academics as well as a high-level tennis program,” she said. “I am looking for a school that can enrich my studies as well as advance my game, such as Princeton, Duke, Stanford, Harvard or Yale.”

 

Nicolas Meister (Chicago, Ill.)

Three-star rising senior and recent high school graduate Nicolas Meister has overcome some challenges related to two auto-immune diseases that delayed his physical growth.

Three-star senior Nicolas Meister

As a result, Meister was a late bloomer, which greatly affected his tennis development. He experienced a huge growth spurt early in high school, which resulted in shoulder and elbow injuries. He had to take off nearly a year’s worth of tournaments. This was a factor in Meister's decision to take a gap year and thus matriculate to college in the fall of 2018.

““I attribute a lot of my recent success to being free from injuries. I’ve worked hard to build strength and stay flexible, allowing me to play a bigger and more aggressive tennis game,” Meister said.

This lefty player trains with coach Suhel Malhotra of the Five Seasons Sports Club and Chris Klingemann, the assistant coach of Northwestern University’s men’s tennis team.

Meister also cites an increase in his mental clarity and strength during matches as a reason for his recent results. He has been able to better remember and focus on skills he’s gained during practice, as well as able to employ positive self-talk during competition.

“I’ve been more consistently maintaining my mental goals throughout matches,” he said. “Staying even-keeled and relaying positive talk to myself have made things a lot simpler in my mind.”

Meister’s success streak actually began back in the Spring with his high school tennis season at the Latin School of Chicago. He went 28-4 this season and came in fourth in the Ill. State Tennis Tournament.

This Chicago native also performed notably in three tournaments last month, including the Midwest Team Cup in Mishawaka, Ind., where he went undefeated. In addition, he reached the consolation quarterfinals of the USTA Midwest Closed in Indianapolis.

As for the future of Meister’s tennis game, he and his coaches are currently putting all energy into preparing for the National Clay Courts in Delray, Fla.

“We are working on how my plan of structuring points may shift while adapting to the clay,” he said. “Specifically, we’re working on keeping more weight through my back foot on my serve, staying low on shorter balls near the net, my split step and first volley when approaching, and the difference between taking the ball early and attacking, absorbing and rolling a heavier ball.”

 

Anders Gibbons (Mercer Island, Wash.)

The highlight of five-star rising junior Anders Gibbons’ last month of tennis was winning the Pacific Northwest Sectional in Yakima, Wash.

Five-star junior Anders Gibbons

This victory included wins over five-star recent graduate Jason Lui in the semifinals and five-star rising senior Theodore McDonald in the finals, which Gibbons considers his two best wins of the month. He beat Lui, 10-6, in the third set, and the confidence from this win carried him into the finals of the tournament.

“The match in the finals was a very good win for me because earlier this year, I lost to the same player, 6-0; 6-2,” Gibbons said. “Our Sectional final was a tough, competitive match, but I was able to trust my mental strength and fitness to get me through it with a win.” Gibbons defeated McDonald, 6-4; 6-3.

Also in June, Gibbons won the NW Washington Junior Advanced Tournament. His good play pushed him into the top 50 players on the Junior Class Rankings.

The six-foot-two player credits these results to an improved mental game, particularly when it comes to his sportsmanship.

“If I am playing against a weaker opponent, I make sure I am humble, fight to win every point and work on areas of my game that need improvement,” he said. “If I play a stronger opponent, I focus on what I can control and never give up.”

Gibbons is currently working with his coaches, Brian Park and Guillermo Gomez of the Tennis Center at Sand Point in Seattle, on his serve.

“I am focusing on keeping my head up longer and snapping my elbow and wrist to add power and precision. I have been breaking down Pete Sampras' serve and trying to copy it,” Gibbons said. “So far, I have noticed a significant improvement in my power and precision, which has also helped me win free points and hold my serve comfortably.”

Gibbons’s recent success has him thinking about college. As an honor roll student, Gibbons believes academics are just as important as athletics when considering the right fit.

“I am looking for a competitive tennis program in a solid division that is also a strong academic school,” he said. “I want to continue my focus on developing my game, competing at a high level and challenging myself in the classroom. I have always loved team competition and look forward to contributing to a college team.”

Have a look over the Hot 100 lists - and take a look at some of the other players who have stepped up their game.

The next edition of the Hot 100 will be available on August 14, 2017.

 

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More Roundup Articles

19-Jun-2017
Hot 100 List - June '17
Today we announce the June edition of the Hot 100. The Hot 100 features 100 boys and 100 girls who have been playing outstanding tennis. These players have substantially improved their rankings over the past month.

15-May-2017
Hot 100 List - May '17
Today we announce the May edition of the Hot 100. The Hot 100 features 100 boys and 100 girls who have been playing outstanding tennis. These players have substantially improved their rankings over the past month.

21-Apr-2017
Hot 100 List - April '17
Today we announce the April edition of the Hot 100. The Hot 100 features 100 boys and 100 girls who have been playing outstanding tennis. These players have substantially improved their rankings over the past month.

 
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About Amelia Thomas

Amelia Thomas has been the author of the Hot 100 column at Tennis Recruiting since Fall 2009. Thomas, currently a student at Appalachian State University in Boone, has been involved in journalism in both high school and college. She served as editor of her school's online news site in 2011 and 2012, and she placed in a National Scholastic competition for Feature of the Year.

 
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Page updated on Thursday, July 20, 2017
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