Hot 100 List - December '16
by Amelia Thomas, 19 December 2016
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As fall semester winds down in schools across the country, finals and holiday celebrations consume most students' minds. That isn't the case for junior tennis players, many of which use this extra time to improve their play. We check in with some players who made notable improvements on the court in this month's Hot 100 Lists.
The Hot 100 lists are published each month, and the December Hot 100 lists feature the one hundred boys and girls who most improved their rankings during the month of November. You can find out more about the Hot 100 - and how the lists are calculated - by reading here.
The latest lists, published earlier today, are available here:
We talked to a few of these top performers...
Lauren Waddles (Nicholasville, Ky.)
Three-star freshman Lauren Waddles named an entire tournament last month as her greatest achievement in lieu of a single "best win." She competed in the Icy Hot Fall Indoor Southern Championships, where she won the quarterfinal playoff.
"I say this because I split sets in four matches in that tournament - and won three of those after dropping the first set," she said. All three wins were against higher-ranked players. "I was happy that I was able to stay mentally focused and continue to battle back, point after point, even when I was down in the match."
Waddles' only loss was in three sets to five-star Sonia Maheshwari, 3-6; 6-2; 6-4. "I gained a lot of confidence in that tournament with my strong play and much improved mental game," Waddles said.
In addition to clinching fifth place at the Icy Hot Championships, Waddles competed in the Southern Junior Championships in Charleston, S.C., where she reached the semifinals.
This strengthened mental game is what Waddles credits for her overall growth, along with improved physical fitness.
"Over the last several months, I have been working out more with a strength coach to improve my overall conditioning and stamina," she said. "Most importantly, my attitude on the court has improved, helping me to get the most out of my practices and matches."
Ryan Waddles, Lauren Waddles's father, additionally cites his daughter's mental growth as the reason for her recent success.
"I feel that Lauren's play has really made a significant improvement lately because of her ability to stay mentally focused during the match from start to finish," he said. "She has been putting a lot of effort into this part of her game. I also think she is continuing to gain confidence as she finds herself competing strongly against some of the best players in the Southern Section."
Both Lauren Waddles and her parents believe that academics is what distinguish her from her peers. Unlike many players who switch to sports academies or homeschooling, Waddles continues to attend traditional schooling.
"Lauren is an excellent student and has been able to keep up with her classwork despite traveling all over the southeast US for tournaments," her parents said.
Waddles' academic priorities will influence her as she considers college. "I am looking for a school that wants to help me get to the next level in my tennis game, but also has great academic opportunities as well," she said. "I am starting to get an idea of where I want to go to college and working hard to be considered for those teams."