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Some Pain, All Gain for USC-Bound Willson

Danielle Willson never imagined so much pain could lead to so much joy.

Willson’s mother enrolled her in a summer camp at the Newport Beach Tennis Club in Newport Beach, California when Willson was 7 to introduce her to the sport.

Five Star Danielle Willson Is Heading to USC

The campers were playing with water balloons one afternoon, and a girl decided to hit a balloon with racket. The water balloon pelted Willson right in the face.

“I had a pretty big hole underneath my eye, so the director of tennis - I am guessing he did not want to get sued - gave me some free tennis lessons,” Willson said. “I picked up a racket and played some tennis with him and I loved it. After that, I quit every other sport and focused on tennis.”

Willson’s dedication has paved the way for an opportunity to play in college. The five-star senior will be joining the USC team in the fall.

“USC has always been on my mind. It’s super close to home and it has really good academics,” said Willson, who has a 4.4 GPA at Corona Del Mar High. “That is actually one of the most important things other than tennis because I like to excel in the classroom as well as the tennis court.”

Willson began corresponding with USC last spring before the Trojans decided to make a coaching change. Once Alison Swain was hired, Willson reached out again to see if there was any potential for her to earn a spot on the team.

“I realized that Alison and I kind of fit together well, and I thought that she could develop my game to be a top Division I player and improve to the best of my ability,” Willson said. “I really liked the core values of her program and I thought that was where I was supposed to be.”

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Page updated on Saturday, September 26, 2020
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