A couple weeks back I spoke with Angie Walker to get some insight into her scholarship to Idaho State and learn a little bit more about what makes her tick. Tennis is a gruelling, demanding sport, and few last a match, let alone a career, if they don't receive some help along the way.
That help can come in the form of coaches or supportive teammates, but it can also come by watching the game’s greats go through their own trials and tribulations.
Here’s three tennis players that inspire Angie and might inspire you, too.
Angie’s looked up to Roger Federer since she was young and just getting into tennis. He’s been winning matches for a long time and it’s always easy to get caught up in the hype of a champion.
“He’s just one of the best tennis players in the world,” Angie told me. “I know he’s a male tennis player but still it’s nice to watch him play. The men’s game is a bit different from the women’s, Federer uses such a variety in his shots. Plus, he’s still at the top of the world after all these years.”
“So he’s kinda like the Jaromir Jagr of tennis?” I asked.
“He’s like the Jaromir Jagr of tennis?”
“The Wayne Gretzky of tennis?”
“Oh yeah, yeah. To last as long as he has and be as competitive as he has is pretty inspiring.”
Angie again: “When we were down in California for spring break I was watching the Indian Wells tournament. I know Milos Raonic is another male tennis player but he’s Canadian and I think he’s developed his game kind of the same as me.”
When Milos Raonic was starting to rise in the tennis rankings he was a baseline player according to Angie. This is a style she admits she’s worked hard to improve upon in her time at the NSWC. Both Raonic and Walker have integrated playing the net into their game.
“He’s starting to gain some variety in his shots and his creativity, and I get a lot of inspiration from that because I’m trying to do the same thing,” says Angie.
“And what happens when you’re playing to the net more?”
“You’re on the offence more when you’re at the net. It’s easier to build the point, but your reaction time needs to be quicker.”
“You probably have to rely on your skill more; your instincts.”
“Yeah. When you’re on offence you’re always moving forward so the goal is to get to the net and finish the point off with a volley as soon as you can.”
“Alright, one more.”
“Okay. I should do a female, shouldn’t I?” Angie asks me.
“If you think you should then you probably should.” At this moment Fabio Walker, Angie’s Dad and the director of tennis at the NSWC, emerges from the tennis courts at the end of a lesson.
“I’m going to say – daddy, can you help me with this one?”
Both Fabio and I respond in unison. “Nope, (he) (I) can’t help you.”
“Angie, think of a female who’s inspired you during your career, who’s helped you improve your game and get you to where you need to go.”
“Get you where you need to go?” says Fabio. “Your mom.”
“That would be a good one.”
“Can I say my mom?”
“Absolutely you can. This is your interview.”
When Angie’s mom Amy was a junior, she was ranked the number one player in Texas before receiving a full-ride scholarship to Texas Tech University. It’s a path Angie is currently walking herself.
“Having the experience and support of both my parents has been so valuable. They both played NCAA tennis and that was kind of my goal when I was young, too. Not many kids follow their parents’ footsteps, not many want to, but I did set my sights on an athletic scholarship when I was young.”
While Angie searches for inspiration she’s proving to be an inspiration herself. Our interview was interrupted several times by young tennis players craving attention from their young role model.
Whether it’s a famous tennis player winning championships in his prime, a parent working hard to support her family or a college-bound athlete preparing for life’s next steps, there’s inspiration to be found all around us.