Fort Mill High school junior Morgan Chumney recently received the United States Tennis Association's South Carolina 2011 Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Award. "Morgan is never hesitant to use her skills to beat down an opponent, but always uses her inherent good nature to pick them back up afterwards," notes the USTA website.
Chumney is currently ranked No. 3 in South Carolina and 68th in the nation. I caught up with her to hear how she manages her rising tennis career.
Q: What is your practice schedule?
I take lessons 2-3 times per week and a clinic once a week. I participate in organized fitness three times a week and do fitness on my own the other days. I play approximately 12-14 tournaments a year.
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Q: How do you balance tennis with everything else?
It's hard but the key is just going with the flow. I don't have time to stress about any particular thing. I enjoy life and make time for the important things - God, family and school.
Q: What advice would you give to a kid who wants to play tennis at your level?
I would advise them to choose a sport they like and enjoy because it is hard work to play at this level. So if you don't enjoy it, you'll grow to not like it. Also, they should set realistic goals for their future. Make sure you have the support of your family, because playing at this level is a family commitment.
Q: What have been your tennis career highlights so far?
Winning the zonal team championships in 2010, winning the 2011 Mark Hodgin Sportsmanship Award and when my doubles partner and I won the doubles title at the National Open in January 2011.
Q: What are your tennis career goals after high school?
My goal is to play tennis at a Division I school and to gain a business /marketing degree.
Q: If you didn't play tennis, what sport would you play?
I would probably run track.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
I love the outdoors and like kayaking, mountain biking, going out on the lake and hanging out with friends.
Q: What have you learned from your losses?
.....Life goes on. Each loss always shows you an area of your game that can be improved.
Q: Why is good sportsmanship important in tennis and in life?
Good sportsmanship is the essence of the game of tennis. You have to step on the court believing that your opponent will make you play to the best of your ability. To be respected you have to respect your opponent. Just as in tennis, an opponent may cheat you, in life you will also be cheated at some point, but you have to learn to play with integrity and live with integrity.
Q: How did you feel when you won the USTA Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Award?
I felt very honored and humbled. Many people win tournaments, but not many are recognized for their sportsmanship. Winning this award means that coaches, referees, opponents, tournament directors, etc have recognized that I play fair. My parents have always taught me play the game by the rules. I feel sportsmanship is more important than winning.