Girls tennis: Rincon junior dedicated to reaching state championship match

2011-04-01T00:00:00Z 2011-04-01T06:15:58Z Girls tennis: Rincon junior dedicated to reaching state championship matchNicole Dimtsios For The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

For Rincon/University High School junior Samantha Lund, tennis isn't just an activity, it's part of a daily routine.

The Tucson native practices up to three hours a day, six days a week, all in hopes of playing collegiate tennis.

She practices at school with coach Kathy Bielas, and daily at the Smith-Perry Tennis Academy, where she is surrounded by other players hoping to continue their games after high school.

"They're all dedicated to making it to college tennis, and just having that kind of atmosphere that we all have goals, and we're not going to stop until we reach those goals. It's really motivated me and affecting my games in a positive way."

Lund was three wins from the state title in 2010 and is poised to make another strong run in 2011.

Here are three reasons why she'll be in the state championship match.

She's got a clear head. Despite the back-and-forth nature of tennis, Lund said she only focuses on singular moments during a match.

"I get on the court, and everything else just kind of goes away for a while," Lund said. "I'm dedicated to focusing on what I need to do in each moment. It's not usually the big picture until I'm off the court."

Lund said she was able to develop this skill while working at the SPTA, and that it has really motivated and affected her mental game in a positive way by allowing her to take the match point by point.

She has re-evaluated her track to state. Although Bielas and Lund said the AIA realignment won't especially affect Lund's path to the state title, her experience last year is something that she said changed her mindset.

She said because of her success as a freshman in 2009, her vision of last year's state tournament was a little skewed.

"Being honest, I went into it a little cocky last year," Lund said.

Bielas said that Lund has made her expectations more realistic going into this year's state tournament.

She said she will use the motivation of an early exit from the tournament to fuel her 2011 run.

"Getting out when I did, it was sad, but it really is going to motivate me this year, since I am a junior, and I only have a couple of more years," Lund said.

She won't back down. Bielas described Lund in one word: fighter.

"I think she's tenacious," said Bielas. "She hangs in there, and she gives it her best shot."

Lund described her match style as slowly feeling out an opponent and exploiting weaknesses. Her playing style is designed to build on her strength as the match goes on, attacking when she feels comfortable on the court.

Because she takes time to evaluate her opponent, Lund said she might not always sweep the match - but that doesn't mean she won't fight back.

"If we do split sets, I'm perfectly fine with being able to stay on the court," Lund said. "As long as I'm on the court, I'll get the victory out of it, or at least try as hard as I can."

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