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Tournament Feature
Reigniting the Tournament Flame

The light went on for Demi Snyder six months ago.

After reducing her tournament schedule to focus on academics, Snyder suddenly had the urge to compete more.

She began watching professional tennis and became inspired by what she saw.

“I just made a change in my mind and it was like a switch. I started really, really loving tennis again and started devoting a lot more time to it,” Snyder said. “My love for it blossomed and completely grew in a matter of just a couple of weeks.”

The four-star rising junior is hoping her newfound energy will translate into a strong summer.

Demi Snyder is a rising junior from Fort Lauderdale

Snyder is competing in the USTA Girls’ 16 National Clay Court Championships, which begins Sunday at the Virginia Beach Tennis & Country Club in Virginia Beach, Va.

The tournament is one of eight national clay court divisional events taking place next week in Virginia, Tennessee and Florida.

Snyder, a Fort Lauderdale native, enters the clays with momentum.

In June, she made a run through the Girls 16 draw to capture the Bobby Curtis sectional clay court title in Orlando. The unseeded Snyder didn't drop a set while beating the No. 1, 3, 6, 9 and 10 seeds.

“I went into that tournament thinking the seed doesn't matter. Just because I wasn't seeded didn't mean I wasn't able to win the tournament,” Snyder said. “I think that probably gave me more motivation. I was motivated to show that someone can do school and not be seeded and go out there and surprise everyone.”

The victory provided a nice boost just in time for college coaches to begin contacting Synder. She received a call from the Air Force head coach on July 1.

“Having him call on the first day was really exciting,” she said. “A year ago, I was not in the same positive mindset for tennis. I saw college and was scared and put a lot of pressure on myself. I really wanted to get into college and I wasn't necessarily enjoying it as much. But now I have made the decision to try as get as good as I can and hopefully one day go to a really good college and train hard and maybe play on the pro tour.”

Snyder has been heartened by the results on the professional tour with players excelling at older ages.

“It just shows you don't have to turn pro when you are like 16 or 18. You can go to school and go to college and still be able to do what you want,” said Snyder, who started playing tennis at age 8. “I hope that continues because I think it's great for tennis.”

Snyder switched coaches last year and is working with Melinda Czink, a former Top 50 WTA player from Hungary. Czink's husband, Ian Barstow, is Snyder's fitness trainer.

“They don't know anything else besides treating players very professionally. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to be a pro tennis player, but it's about carrying yourself professionally,” Snyder said. “They are both very process oriented. They don't focus on results, they focus on improvement and believe the results will come if you trust the process.”

Demi Snyder won the Girls 16 clay court sectional title

The oldest of four children, Snyder is trying to set an example for her brothers and sister to follow on the court and in the classroom.

“My parents got divorced when I was 10 and I kind of took over the role of my dad because my mom is raising us as a single mother,” she said. “It really helped me mature and grow a lot. It helped me to learn about responsibility and really keeps me focused because I have three younger siblings looking up to me.”

Once she graduates from college and is done playing tennis, Snyder expects to enter the family business. Her family owns the Lago Mar Resort in Ft. Lauderdale.

“It's been in our family for the last 56 years and I have been working at the hotel a little bit already,” Snyder said. “My great grandfather moved down from Virginia to start it and now my grandfather has it and my mom will probably eventually have it and then maybe me.”

Traveling to Virginia Beach for the national clay courts will allow Snyder to experience a little more family history. Her grandparents grew up about a mile from the tournament site where she will be playing.

Although taking a break from playing big tournaments was purely academic and not from burnout, Snyder's return has sparked a new fire.

“I think my love for it is what really helped me improve,” she said. “You can do as much work as you want, but if you don't really enjoy what you are doing you are not going to get anything out of it.”


USTA National Clay Courts Schedule

Boys 18: July 16-23, Delray Beach, Fla.

Girls 18: July 16-23, Memphis, Tenn.

Boys 16: July 16-23, Delray Beach, Fla.

Girls 16: July 16-23, Virginia Beach, Va.

Boys 14: July 16-22, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Girls 14: July 16-22, Plantation, Fla.

Boys 12: July 17-22, Orlando, Fla.

Girls 12: July 17-22, Boca Raton, Fla.


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About Rhiannon Potkey

Rhiannon Potkey is a veteran sportswriter with more than two decades of experience in journalism. Potkey has covered many sports at many levels and has a passion for finding great stories. Potkey has covered the U.S. Open, junior sectional and national events, college conference championships and Davis Cup matches. Potkey is currently Content Strategist for Tennis Recruiting.
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Page updated on Wednesday, July 19, 2017
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