By staff writer Thanh Tran
Photos by Thanh Tran
Despite traveling from the Netherlands to the United States, foreign exchange student and senior Carlijn de Leede finds comfort on the tennis courts. Since girls tennis is a spring sport, de Leede has waited nearly the entire school year to get her hands on a racket. “I didn’t play any sport [at Timberline] before tennis, so I really was excited for tennis to start,” said de Leede. “After one practice, I felt like I was part of the team and everybody is so nice.”
Compared to the court in the Netherlands, American tennis players practice every school day. Back home, de Leede is used to practicing only twice a week and competing in matches on the weekends. “I feel like in America, they’re more competitive, but when we play games, it’s the same.” The rules in tennis may be alike, but there is still one rule that is new to de Leede. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) requires high school athletes to participate in a minimum of 10 practices before they are eligible to compete in a match. “We [in the Netherlands] don’t have rules like that,” said de Leede.
In addition, the most visible differences between tennis in the United States and Europe are the type of courts. Back home, de Leede plays on turf, a striking contrast to the hard concrete used in the United States.
These differences do not faze de Leede. With a 10 year background playing tennis, her expertise results in a fairly successful season. “[This season has been] pretty good because I’ve won all my matches so far… with almost the same score [in each one],” said de Leede.
With all of these wins, de Leede’s skill is obvious. Regardless, she is not immune to game day jitters. “I’ve played [tennis] matches for six, seven, eight years maybe, and I’m nervous before every match, it just still happens,” said de Leede. “[It] doesn’t matter who I play against, if the girl is worse than I am or if she’s really good, I’m always nervous, but that happens with every sport.” To combat this nervousness, de Leede eats a banana before every match. “That’s just something that I always do because I feel like I’ll get some extra power if I eat a banana.”
De Leede has high hopes to play well for the remainder of the girls tennis season. “I’d really like to make it to playoffs and hopefully make districts. State is maybe a little too much, but we’ll go for it, I’ll try.”