Athlete Feature: Annika Chan

Varsity athlete star Annika Chan posing with her racket!
Varsity athlete star Annika Chan posing with her racket!
Sydney Chau

With a team spirit stronger than ever before, the Arcadia High School (AHS) Girls Varsity Tennis season comes to an end, adding yet another victory to their undefeated Pacific League title of 14 years. Junior Annika Chan, captain of the Girls Varsity Tennis team, is a star on the courts of AHS.

Chan started her tennis career at 8-years-old, initially choosing the sport because both her dad and brother played it. Chan joined the Girls Varsity Tennis team her freshman year and worked up to become the captain the year after.

As captain, Chan plays a vital role in leading the team and bringing out the best in every member. 

“As captain, I think I have to set a good role model for the others. So I always have to do my best,” said Chan. “I try to be motivated during conditioning and motivate others, and also during the matches, I’ll encourage my other teammates.” 

Chan is especially fascinated with the Swiss former professional tennis player Roger Federer. Federer serves as a source of motivation for Chan to continue to play tennis and not give up, even when things get tough. 

“His grace on the court and his humbleness and humor…it’s very inspiring,” said Chan. 

When asked about Chan’s inspiration to excel in tennis, she stated, “Since I’m on the team, I think I just want to do my best for the entire team and contribute. But it’s also for myself. I just want to improve and play.”

Regardless of Chan being on the team for three seasons, her most memorable experience was rather recently, at a game on Oct. 19 against Crescenta Valley High School (CVHS), where AHS scored 11-7.

“This time we really wanted to win, and we were actually down the entire time,” Chan recalled. “So it was like 3-4, and then we won the next 3 games in a row so we won 6-4. That was the only match we had lost the entire season. So I think our biggest challenge was coming to the match we played at home against them again because we really wanted to beat them.” 

Fueled by their determination to win against CVHS, Chan and her doubles partner Michelle Ho were able to overcome their greatest challenge and ultimately attain victory. The key to Chan and Ho’s success was their mentality.

“Towards the end, we were more confident, and we hyped each other up…we were in the zone,” Chan explained. Following this, Chan and Ho were able to secure the match. 

Chan recalled how she and Ho did “a little tennis celebration at the end, and it was like the loudest clap.” 

When faced with pressure and setbacks during competitions, Chan has a method to remain calm and ensure control over her mentality. 

“I think about it point by point,” Chan shared. “The last point is already over, so we focus on the next point.” By staying confident in the present and not lingering over things that have already happened, Chan can focus and continue to perform her best, regardless of the challenges that she may be facing. 

Chan emphasized the role of mental preparation in her training and performance, stating, “I think just staying positive…even when we are down in a match because we have to focus on the present.” 

Being a student-athlete, balancing her sport and schoolwork is not easy. But through years of experience, Chan has developed a well-organized schedule to balance her everyday life. Following tennis practices at AHS, Chan heads straight home. After that, she takes a break before beginning her homework. 

Chan stated that she tries to  “finish all [her] homework by 10:30” and “go to bed by 12.” This is the system that Chan has installed as her daily routine in order to balance schoolwork, tennis, and her social life.

Chan also shared advice for other athletes, “If you’re passionate about it, don’t give up even if you want to quit,” she said. “ Because I think a lot of times in the past, I’ve wanted to quit tennis because I’m disappointed in myself. But there’s always room for improvement, and you’ll learn to enjoy it more and have fun.” 

Chan does not plan on playing for college, but for her, “Tennis for sure will be a big part of my life as a hobby. It is something that I can [do to] bond with my friends and stay active.” She also wishes to “keep the league streaks going,” so that this year is the 15th-year streak mark. 

All in all, Chan demonstrates what it means to be a Varsity Tennis athlete with her passion, tenacity, and dedication to the sport. From the beginning of her journey to where she is now, Chan has come a long way through hard work and persistence. Not only is Chan a standout player on the court, but she’s also a role model for her teammates and young athletes who aspire to follow in her footsteps. From Chan’s experiences, it is evident that the mindset of athletes plays a huge role in their performance. As Chan continues with her tennis career, we are excited to see the remarkable achievements she brings to the team and are honored to have her as team captain.

Photo by Sydney Chau

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