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College Spotlight: Q&A with Kelcy McKenna of Arizona State

April 1, 2009 07:27 PM

Kelcy McKenna, a sophomore at Arizona State University, is currently ranked third in the nation in singles and 15th in doubles.

Considered one of the frontrunners to win the national championship this year, McKenna has had a great season, with highlights that include winning the singles title at the ITA All-Americans, leading her team to victory over No. 20 Florida State at the ITA Kick-Off in Atlanta and representing the United States at the Master’U event in Poitiers, France.
She was named the Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week for the second time in her college career the week of Jan. 26.

During her freshman year, McKenna won more singles matches than any other player on her team, with 33 total victories, and she captured 28 wins in doubles. She earned All Pac-10 honors and received the 2008 ITA West Region Rookie of the Year Award.

McKenna came to Arizona State after a legendary high school tennis career in her native North Bend, Ore., where she captured four individual state titles, compiled a perfect 88-0 record, and won 176 straight sets. She also led her high school team to a state championship in volleyball and was named the state player of the year twice.

McKenna, who turns 20 on April 11, recently took time from her busy schedule to answer some questions for USTA.com.

USTA.com: You were one of the top recruits in the class of 2007. Why did you choose Arizona State?

Kelcy McKenna: Arizona State is a very well-rounded school, in my opinion. The university has great facilities, academics, coaching support and virtually anything a student-athlete could possibly want or need to be a successful student and athlete.

USTA.com: Despite being a top-ranked junior player, you didn’t have a “typical” route from the juniors to college tennis, spending a portion of each year playing volleyball—you were the 2005 and 2006 Oregon State 3A Player of the Year. How has your transition been to being a “full-time” tennis player?

Kelcy McKenna: Well, it has been difficult at times. I rarely play volleyball any more, and tennis takes up much more time in my life. Also, it was nice to be able to have athletic diversity in my life, instead of just focusing on one sport. I do enjoy being able to play tennis all year around, though!

USTA.com: Do you miss volleyball?

Kelcy McKenna: Yes!

USTA.com: You had a great run this fall, winning the ITA All-Americans, pulling off some big upsets. What did you learn from that experience?

Kelcy McKenna: I think that it is important for me personally to expect every match to be long. During that tournament, most of my matches ended in tie-breakers or third sets, which helped me prepare for the tough matches ahead during the dual season.

USTA.com: With the All-American singles title under your belt and a No. 3 national singles ranking, you’ve got a bit of a target on your back. How do you deal with the pressure?

Kelcy McKenna: If there is one thing I have learned in college tennis, it would be that everyone is talented. It doesn’t matter who you play against; they could beat you easily on any given day. So, every day during practice, I try to improve my game because I believe every collegiate tennis player is improving, as well.

USTA.com: This winter, you traveled with the U.S. team to compete in the Master’U event in Poitiers, France. How was that experience? Did you like the co-ed format?

Kelcy McKenna: The Master’U event was incredible. I really enjoyed the experience of playing internationally with a mix of players. Someone could never ask for better people to travel and play the event with. Not only were all my teammates fantastic tennis players, they were all-around great individuals, as well.

USTA.com: What is your favorite thing about being a Sun Devil?

Kelcy McKenna: My favorite part of being a Sun Devil is the pitchfork. It is one of coolest things ever when our team is in an airport and a fellow Devil fan throws out the pitchfork in support!

USTA.com: Your coach, Sheila McInerney, is one of the most successful coaches in college tennis. What have you learned from her since coming to Tempe?

Kelcy McKenna: Sheila is probably one of the hardest workers I know and also one of the most tennis educated. It would be difficult to select just one item that I have learned from all of her teachings!

USTA.com: What are your goals for yourself and for your team this season?

Kelcy McKenna: Our team goal is to win an NCAA Championship. Personally, I am just looking to improve my tennis each and every time I step onto the court.

USTA.com: There are a lot of great rivalries in the Pac-10? Which match do you look forward to the most?

Kelcy McKenna: I enjoy all Pac-10 matches, but one of my favorites is probably playing at the University of Oregon!

USTA.com: Not many people have been to North Bend, Ore. Tell us a little bit about North Bend.

Kelcy McKenna: North Bend is located on the South Coast of Oregon in Coos County. The closest large city is Eugene, located two hours away. Popular attractions in North Bend include the local beaches, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Park, Shore Acres State Park and Bandon Dunes Golf Courses. Many people enjoy hunting, fishing, four wheeling, camping, kayaking, canoeing, crabbing, clamming and various other outdoor activities. I grew up playing tennis at the William J. Sweet Memorial Tennis Center during the winters. As for the spring and fall, normally my dad and I would practice at the SWOCC tennis courts or the North Bend High School tennis facility.

USTA.com: You come from a tennis family, with both your parents and older sister having played college tennis. Any McKenna family doubles matches on record?

Kelcy McKenna: Not to my knowledge, but my niece Raegan and I could be teaming up in the future!

USTA.com: What players did you look up to or pattern your game after when you were growing up?

Kelcy McKenna: Probably my sister. She was always very competitive and never gave up, which was always inspiring to watch.

USTA.com: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college?

Kelcy McKenna: Enjoy the recruiting process. I think many young junior players are committing so early, they never have a chance to experience the journey. Taking official visits is a blast; you meet new people and really get a feel for what you would like in a college experience.

Sophomore Kelcy McKenna© ASU Media Relations

Kelcy McKenna in action© ASU Media Relations