YOU BRIEFLY QUIT TENNIS?
I did. I was like 13. I played soccer in eighth grade when I didn't want to play tennis. At that time I was really struggling when I was playing tournaments. I just didn't like the losing aspect of it, which was very tough on me mentally. My confidence would go down. I'd put it all on myself instead of just treating it like a game. I was still young, and I was putting way too much pressure on myself. … After a year I got back into tennis. That time helped me a lot and remembering that it is just a sport and I'm supposed to have fun no matter what.
WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT TENNIS?
It's definitely the pressure. I mean, that comes with any sport where it's just you out there—any gladiator sport, boxing or wrestling, when you're out there all yourself and no one's there to help you. In college, you have your coach there too, when he comes over and tries to give you some advice. But as a player, you put a lot of stress, a lot of strain and a lot of pressure on yourself mentally. And when you don't achieve the things that you want to achieve, it's tough.
DID YOU PLAY SPORTS OTHER THAN SOCCER AND TENNIS?
I was always a fan of basketball. I loved watching the Bulls. I'm from Chicago. So going downtown to the United Center, that was fun. But it's just soccer and tennis.
I GUESS YOU WERE A LITTLE YOUNG FOR THE BULLS’ DYNASTY IN THE ’90s?
Yeah, my dad would always talk about Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. But Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, those are my favorite players.
YOU’RE NOT A HOCKEY FAN EVEN THOUGH YOUR DAD PLAYED?
Not really. I never really watched hockey much. Our home team was doing really well at one point, the Blackhawks. I remember watching all the games with my dad then, but I always liked soccer and tennis more for some reason.
WHAT ELSE ARE YOU INVOLVED IN ON CAMPUS?
I'm a member of [the student-athlete group] T.I.D.E. (Tackling Inclusion, Diversity and Equity). We meet once a week on Thursdays and it's nice to be part of something on campus with other student athletes who aren't in my sport.
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU WERE NAMED 2022 PATRIOT LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR?
I first found out that I was nominated on our Lehigh men’s tennis Instagram page, and I ended up looking at the Patriot League awards and my name was on there. I didn't think I would be the first one in Lehigh tennis history to ever receive it too, which was a crazier thing for me. But that was one of the main goals, actually, that I really wanted to focus on last year. I remember telling my sophomore teammates at the time, ‘You know, I think I can really do it. I think I can win Rookie of the Year.’ [With] all that hard work and all of the experiences, all the learning that I did throughout my crazy first year, to end up achieving that at the end was something awesome that I truly will always remember.