Windermere Prep tennis player Carissa Ruiz continues to develop her game.
A sophomore on the Windermere Prep girls tennis team, Carissa Ruiz is an integral part for Lakers head coach Mandy Rosenfield. A student at the school since first grade, Ruiz is now in her third season with the varsity team, and is looking forward to making this season one to remember.
When did you first get into tennis?
I was about 3 years old and my parents were the ones who put me into it. I used to live in Europe, so I started there and then we moved to Wisconsin and I still continued it there, and then we moved to Florida and I still play throughout the year.
What has been your favorite thing about playing at Windermere Prep?
I think the environment is really nice — we have a great team, and we have known everybody for a long time. All of our teammates are really close, and even though it is an individual sport, we still have a great team of boys and girls.
Since you first started playing tennis, what would you say has been the biggest change that you’ve seen in yourself?
I’ve definitely improved a lot. More people have come to this school and there are so many great players, so you start off with a small group of people and as more people come — the better they are — and you get to hit with them and play a lot more, then you just improve. I feel like I have improved by playing with so many great people.
What would you say are the best words of advice you’ve been given about tennis?
Tennis is a very mental sport. Obviously you need to be fit, but you have to be the best that you can be — no matter what — and not get into your head as much. Your worst enemy is yourself — especially with tennis; since it’s such an individual sport, you’re blaming your mistakes on yourself and they keep bringing you down, but you just have to play your best game.
When you do hit those hard streaks during a match, how do you mentally overcome that?
You just have to move past the past points and look forward, try to strategize and just try to look for your opponent’s weaknesses and open the court.
What is the most challenging part about playing tennis? The most fun aspect?
The most challenging part is definitely the mental side of it, because I’m very hard on myself, so it can be difficult sometimes to get yourself out of a negative mindset. The best part about tennis it is just fun — playing and serving, and hitting hard.
Is there a highlight moment during your time at Windermere Prep?
Definitely in eighth grade — when I first got on varsity — I was on line five and for that entire season I was undefeated, (so) that was a really good year for me. And our entire team did really well that year and we all went to states and it was really cool, because we won districts and regionals.