Lake Norman & Mooresville

Olivia Archer becomes a game-changer on the tennis court

Olivia Archer playS in the Southern Regional tournament in Mobile, Alabama, held June 10-18.
Olivia Archer playS in the Southern Regional tournament in Mobile, Alabama, held June 10-18.

Olivia Archer’s tennis career started by accident.

Archer, who hadn’t turned 10 years old, admits she was indifferent about playing the sport as she tagged along with her older sister, Hannah, who was getting serious about tennis.

Olivia Archer’s primary sport was soccer, where she had established herself as a key player on Charlotte Soccer Academy team, that featured players like future Hough standout Ashlynn Serepca, the 2016 N.C. Gatorade player of the year, who is also in U18 U.S. women’s national team pool.

But just nine months after starting to play tennis without ever taking a formal lesson, Archer vaulted to No. 2 in the state in her age (U10), according to the USTA rankings.

“We just kind of threw Olivia out there on the tennis court because Hannah was playing,” Greg Archer, Olivia’s father said. “She was a soccer player, so I honestly wasn’t even paying much attention to her on the tennis court. All of the sudden, she’s ranked No. 2 in the state and I said ‘maybe we should get her some lessons.’”

“Honestly, I didn’t really even like tennis at first,” Olivia Archer said. “I was kind of indifferent about playing, I just wanted to be with my older sister and she was always playing tennis. But I started to enjoy playing and I started improving and I liked that feeling. I started going to practice and play more and more. It changed my life.”

Eight years later, Archer, a rising senior at Lake Norman Charter, is not only ranked No. 3 in the state, but also No. 18 in the Southeast Region and No. 88 in the nation in her age group, according to tennisrecruiting.net.

The 17-year old Cornelius native, who lives in the Peninsula Club neighborhood, is 103-1 in her Lake Norman Charter singles’ career.

She won the 2A state individual championship last fall, going a perfect 21-0, without losing a set all season.

Archer had won back-to-back, 2A state doubles’ championship (2014, 2015) with her older sister, Hannah, who is now playing tennis at Washington & Lee University, when the duo went a perfect 45-0 together over two seasons.

Olivia Archer has also been a part of a Lake Norman Charter team that has won 51 straight matches, winning three straight, NCHSAA 2A state championships in the process.

“It’s really amazing to play for your high school team with all your best friends,” said Olivia Archer. “I’ve enjoyed winning all the championships, especially accomplishing a lot of it with Hannah. But, it was also exciting to win the (2A) state singles’ championship this year, and make a name for myself, too.”

Archer’s high school tennis career doesn’t tell her full story. Archer also plays year round, traveling all over country playing on the USTA junior circuit.

Archer has had some of her big results lately as she won the N.C. State Tar Heel Qualifier 18 girls’ singles title in Winston-Salem on May 29.

At that tournament, Archer become the state championship in more ways than one as she beat South Mecklenburg freshman Jenna Thompson (the 2016 N.C. 4A state singles’ champion) 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in the morning semifinal, and came back that afternoon to beat Concord High junior Kate Earnhardt (the 2013 N.C. 3A state singles’ champion), 6-0, 6-2 to win the championship.

The victory qualified Archer for the nine-state Southern Regional (18) tournament, June 10-18, in Mobile, Alabama.

Archer won her opening match June 11, beating Atlanta’s Sabina Grigorian 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (3). Archer also won her second match June 12, beating Samantha Hogan of Alpharetta, Georgia, 6-3, 6-0 to advance to the round of 32. Archer won her third match in as many days on June 13, upsetting the No. 9 seed, Kylie Duckworth of Martinez, GA, 6-0, 6-0, to advance to the round of 16 at Southern Regional tournament in Mobile, AL.

“Winning the N.C. state championship was a big deal, but I’ve played well before in that event, but finished sixth, seventh and eighth, but had never been able to win it all,” said Archer, who has beaten the NCHSAA 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A state singles’ champions, either in high school or USTA tennis each of her freshman, sophomore and junior years, defeating players like Weddington’s Heidi Swope to Community School of Davidson’s Courtney Mudge and Marisa Deininger to South Meck’s Thompson and more. “To win the event and to beat the competition really embodies all the hard work that I’ve put into my game.”

“Olivia has had some big milestones in the past year and a half,” Greg Archer said. “There are some very, very talented players in North Carolina that she has beaten, but she doesn’t just compete on state level, but also a Southern regional and national level.”

While Archer has won dozens of USTA tournaments in her career already, she is constant pursuit of bigger and better results.

Archer works tirelessly at her game, training at the Lake Norman Tennis Center, Monday through Friday, usually practicing from 3 to 6 p.m. while doing conditioning from 6 to 7 p.m. She works under the director of her coach, Lake Norman Tennis Center junior academy director, Christian Guevara.

She says she working on her game is labor of love.

Archer also gives back the game, volunteering for the “1st Serve Foundation,” where she works with kids on their both their tennis and leadership skills.

“The tennis court is definitely like a second home for me and I love the environment no matter where I am playing,” said Archer, admitting she realized her true passion for the game when she had to miss a month with back injury two years ago. “Sometimes I get frustrated with bad shots, mistakes, but in the end I love being on the court, working hard and playing.”

Archer has a busy summer on the court planned, as she will compete in several more big events including the Clay Court Nationals in Memphis in July and the Delray Beach Cup in Florida, hosted by ProWorld Tennis Academy in August.

Archer says she enjoys the best players in the biggest events.

“I love playing high school tennis and competing against the best players in the state (North Carolina),” Archer said. “But getting a chance to playing some of best regional or even national players is a great challenge, too. I look forward to playing the best players. …

“I love being the underdog and going out and proving myself.”

While Archer is focused on enjoying every minute of play this summer and in her final high school tennis season, she has a lot to look forward on the court in the future.

Archer verbally committed in March to play tennis at Elon University.

“College tennis has always been a goal and a dream, so it’s exciting to know I’m going to keep playing,” Archer said. “But I still have aspirations to play after college, see what if I can make it. …

“I think about it sometimes when I watching a (professional) tournament on TV, mainly the U.S. Open. But I’d also like to play Wimbledon.”

She laughed.

While Archer has a long way to go to make it professionally, she come a long way since she started the game.

“It’s funny when you look back and think about how Olivia got started just wanting to play with her sister, and she didn’t even really like tennis,” said Greg Archer, who was her CSA assistant soccer coach back then. ...

“If you had told me then, that Olivia was going to be a great tennis player, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: jedwardsjr23@gmail.com.

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