Athlete Feature: James Liu

Ava Shaw, Staff Writer

With tennis season in full swing, sophomore James Liu has been working hard for the Arcadia High School (AHS) Boys Varsity Tennis team. Liu began playing tennis when he was only 5-years-old. He took up the sport wishing to spend more time with his older brother, whom he ultimately decided to take lessons with. Liu quickly fell in love with tennis and hasn’t looked back since.

Liu started playing for AHS as a freshman, where his great talents earned him a spot on the varsity team during his first year. School practices are typically 2 hours long, including an hour of grueling conditioning. The team is tasked to do several running exercises, such as “19-50s,” which is when they run back-and-forth on the court 19 times in under 50 seconds. Despite all the demands that come with being on the team, Liu enjoys the comradery found between him and his teammates. He has fun hyping up and cheering for his teammates at games. 

Additionally, Liu also plays for the San Marino Tennis Club, located in Lacy Park. Liu attributes much of his growth as an athlete to his coach at the San Marino Tennis Club. Taking lessons there has helped improve his “tennis IQ” and form.

Liu believes that one of his biggest strengths when it comes to playing tennis is his deception. His body language may suggest that he is unconfident or lacks skill, but in reality, he is prepared, therefore surprising his opponent with his abilities. To prepare for tournaments, Liu listens to music to get in the zone. A pre-game ritual that he swears by is eating a banana.

“The best part of playing tennis for me is hitting the ball and pulling off trickshots, simply because it’s cool,” said Liu.

At times, Liu finds difficulty maintaining the proper physicality and mental strength needed to excel at tennis. Throughout his over ten years of playing, the biggest challenge he has faced has been mental. Luckily, Liu has yet to face any major physical injuries.

His proudest moment as a tennis player was when he won two tournaments in a row as a young kid. Moreover, another one of Liu’s greatest feats was getting to CIF semi-finals in 2022. Liu was pleased with his individual performance at these events.

“Liu is a very talented tennis player. He has the best touch,said Liu’s teammate, sophomore Samuel Li.

One of Liu’s current role models is American tennis player Ben Shelton, a prodigy making waves in the tennis world. Shelton notably won the 2016 United States Tennis Association Junior National Championship and is currently one of the youngest players ranked in the Association of Tennis Professionals Top 100. 

“He’s the same age as my brother (20-years-old) and is already competing at the professional level, which is crazy,” said Liu. 

To be a good tennis player, Liu believes that fundamentals are important. This includes basics like having the perfect serve, forehand, and backhand. Furthermore, Liu is a firm believer in taking care of your mental health, especially for athletes that find themselves in high pressure environments.

The future is bright for Liu, a hardworking and accomplished athlete that AHS is lucky to have. Good luck to Liu and the rest of the AHS Boys Varsity Tennis team this season!

Photo by Katrina Reghitto