Emily Peterson started playing tennis as a freshman at Lake Stevens High School. Since then, her passion for the sport has grown to the point where her life pretty much revolves around tennis.
She has a flexible school schedule that allows her to play multiple times per day. She works at the Columbia Athletic Club (Silver Lake) in Everett, where she receives instruction from professionals Charlie Jordan and Jesse Schouten.
Peterson’s drive has yielded top results. She advanced to the Class 4A state tournament last year as a junior and hopes to earn a state medal this spring.
“She’s one of the best athletes I’ve coached in 25-plus years,” Lake Stevens coach Jeff Leer said. “I’ve never seen a more driven young lady. She’s progressing faster than any player I’ve ever coached. Most kids at Emily’s level have been playing since they were 5, taking lessons at the best clubs. She’s doing something that’s just not usually done.”
Here are five things to know about Peterson:
1. She used a perceived slight as motivation to improve. When she was a freshman, Peterson watched as several of her friends were promoted to the Vikings’ junior varsity while she was left on the C-squad. “That kind of sparked the fire,” she said. “Before the start of my sophomore year, I started to play a lot at the Columbia Athletic Club and get coaching. When I came back for my sophomore year, aside from wanting to prove myself, I wanted to stick it to coach Leer, show him how far I’d come.”
2. She’s a powerlifter. After taking weight-training classes as a sophomore and junior, Peterson has taken her lifting to the next level at the club. “I just like the feeling of getting stronger,” she said. “It makes a big impact for my tennis because I’m using my legs a lot. Trainers at the club give me tips. I’m just doing it recreationally right now, but I might do some competitions (in the future).”
3. She works at the club as a tennis coach. “I get to work with younger kids. I enjoy seeing the same students every week, getting to know them,” Peterson said. “It can be entertaining at times. They’re starting to work toward something, and they have goals, and a passion, and I get to foster that in them. I’m a little jealous at the early start that they’re getting.”
4. She enjoys writing. “I grew up writing creative stories. I always thought I’d be a writer,” said Peterson, who’s taking Running Start classes at Everett Community College. “I’ve taken classes at the college that offer a lot of opportunities to discuss and debate and respond to peers. I like sound opinions that are backed up with facts. That’s the main area (of my interest) in writing right now. I love having open conversations and arguing and debating.”
5. She’s planning on taking a “gap year” after graduating. Peterson said she believes she can play tennis at a high level in college, but needs more time to work on her game before joining a collegiate program. “With the late start (to her tennis career), I feel that I have a lot more room to grow,” she said. “I’ll train for a year to play at a really high level the following year. It was a tough decision to stall college, but it makes sense.”