Two years ago, Abby Affholter was primed to claim the No. 1 singles role on the Everett High School girls tennis team, but at the start of the season she suffered a major knee injury that forced her to miss the entire campaign.
After extensive rehabilitation, she returned to the court last year and had a successful season, advancing to the Class 3A District tournament. She’s doing well again this year and has her sights set on advancing to the 3A state tourney.
“She’s the closest thing we have to a rock star,” Everett co-coach Jim Conner said. “She’s a heck of an athlete, and a serious competitor. When I first saw her play as a freshman, I made a note to myself that said, ‘This is the future of Everett tennis,’ and that has proven to be correct.”
The Herald recently spoke with Affholter about her tennis, other interests and future plans:
How did you deal with the mental and physical affects of your injury?
Not being able to compete was tough for me. Even though I was working hard to get back into the game, I wondered why I couldn’t compete when other people could. The hardest thing I’ve ever done is working to get back to the point where I could play again. But overall (the injury) made me a stronger competitor and athlete.
How would you describe your playing style?
I’ve been told that I look scary when I play. I feel that I play with a lot of heart. I’m very aggressive on the baseline. Not a lot of players are as aggressive as I am.
How did you get started playing tennis?
I’ve been playing since I was 5. My dad (Shannon) played at Pacific Lutheran University, and his whole family plays. I’ve always played singles, and I love the fact I don’t have to depend on anyone else when I’m on the court. I can just focus on playing to the best of my ability.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I’m going to Eastern Washington University. Since my injury was so severe, a lot of coaches didn’t want to look at me for scholarships, so I think I’m going to try to walk on. I could play at Central Washington University for sure, so if I don’t make the (EWU) team I think I’d transfer to Central, but Eastern is my first choice, so I want to give that a shot.
What would you like to do for a career?
I’m going to double-major in English literature and education, and I’d like to be an English teacher. My (current) English teacher, Meg Adams, is the most inspirational person I’ve ever met. She’s turned around my mindset about school — it’s about more than just tests and papers and scores. It’s about becoming who you are going to be through learning, and I want to show that to other people.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to read, mostly novels like “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games” — books that can take you away from the real world. I like to write poetry; I find it calming to put my thoughts or feelings into rhyme scheme. And I know it’s weird to say this, but I hang out with my younger brother (Abe, a freshman at Everett High School) a lot. He’s my best friend. We’re so competitive with each other. He’s a big reason for my success — the competition with him has made me a stronger person and (athlete).
How would you describe yourself?
I think I have a personality that’s very giving. I’m always called the “mom” friend — I want to make sure everyone else is OK before I’m OK.