Heidi Swope doesn’t like to lose at anything – from a big tennis match for her Weddington High team or on the U.S. Tennis Associaition junior circuit, or even a game of table tennis with a friend.
Swope’s competitive attitude and intensity have fueled her success on the tennis court, where she has lost only twice (one singles, one doubles match) at Weddington.
Swope, the reigning Observer girls’ tennis player of the year, has played her best tennis in her biggest high school matches, winning the 3A state doubles title with Emma Yates as a sophomore, before coming back to win the 3A state singles title last season.
“Every time I step onto the court I am going out there to win,” said Swope, who is No. 12 in the state in juniors and No. 8 in her senior class, according to tennisrecruiting.net. “I’m never afraid of my opponent because I train hard, practice hard and I believe you practice how you play. Losing is something I definitely don’t like. I am a very competitive person in everything I do.”
Weddington coach Mike Murphy has seen it all first hand.
“Heidi likes the toughest matches and always rises to the occasion,” Murphy said. “You’re going to have to earn every point against her, and she is not going to give you anything. She is an extremely focused player.”
That focus has been on full display in both state championship wins.
In 2012, Swope and Yates were blown out by Charlotte Catholic’s Grace Deering and Rachel Tomchin in the 3A West Regional final.
One week later after losing the opening set to Deering and Tomchin, Swope and Yates roared back, winning the final two sets 6-1, 6-3 to take the 3A state doubles title. Last season, Swope (20-1 singles, only loss to Deering) tore through the 3A state singles bracket not losing a set, dispatching Cox Mill’s Sarah Jiang in the final 6-3, 6-0.
“It’s an amazing feeling winning a state championship and representing your school,” Swope said. “A lot of people dream of just winning one (championship), and I’ve been fortunate to get two. I definitely want one more.”
Weddington was the 2013 3A state runner-up in the team competition, and in addition to Swope, returns senior Hayley Hinson, juniors Charlotte Ulehla and Ashley Hinson (Hayley’s sister) and sophomore Morgan Weatherby.
Although Swope doesn’t really need extra motivation, she doesn’t have to look past her bedroom dresser to find it.
“I have both state championship rings in a little box on my dresser open where I can see them every day when I wake up,” she said. “It’s always very motivating to see them in the morning, and it’s something that helps motivate me to get up and get to work.”
Fall sports previews
The Observer’s fall sports previews will continue with golf Thursday, followed by cross country and volleyball Friday, soccer Saturday and football Sunday.
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