Though a double-edged sword for her, college junior Kelci Henn doesn’t know what she would do without tennis.
“There’s nothing I hate or love as much as tennis,” Henn said. “It drives me insane, but it’s my own little therapy.”
The 20-year-old, who hails from Long Island, prepared for the fifth match of the season with stretches and practice hits with her newest doubles partner, sophomore Sierra Barrett.
“I could not ask for a better partner than Kelci,” Barrett said. “Most of the time, during the match, it’s her that’s keeping us going and keeping us in it.”
Henn and Barrett both had doubles partners who graduated in May, leaving Henn to take on a teaching role to her younger counterpart.
Women’s Tennis Coach Annmarie Curle has taken pleasure in watching Henn evolve as an athlete.
“She knows when to encourage and motivate,” Curle said. “She’s adopted this new role, and Sierra’s growing as a tennis player.”
Curle, now beginning her fourth year of coaching at the university, said she knew without even meeting Henn, that she embodied her ideal athlete from talks with Henn’s high school tennis coach.
“You just don’t get any better than Kelci,” Curle said, before listing just some of the things she admires about her player.
“Sportsman. She knows how to compete, but she also knows how to be respectful not only to herself, but to her teammates and opponents.”
Henn, the only sister among three other brothers, began playing tennis at age 12. She credits her mother and older brother with bringing her and the sport together.
“I thought I was going to be a soccer star,” Henn said.
But when Henn’s mother signed the siblings up for a summer tennis camp in her hometown, things changed.
“The coach at the time told my mom that I had potential, that I should maybe stick with it.”
Though she initially thought the idea was “stupid,” Henn is glad she didn’t quit.
Henn’s active, outgoing lifestyle carries on off the court.
The fitness and wellness major participates in campus Greek life as a sister of Alpha Phi Sorority, works as an admissions ambassador and teaches CPR on campus.
In addition to her major, Henn pursues a business minor with the hopes of breaking into fitness management, whether that be running her own facility one day, or working with athletes where ever she can.
“When I’m not doing any of that stuff, I like to be in my room, reading,” Henn said.
Barrett, Curle and Henn each share the same excited, optimistic outlook for the season, though the loss of six seniors from last year has forced the team to rebuild.
After a strong start against non-conference opponents, but a loss each against SUNY Cortland and SUNY Oneonta, Curle isn’t discouraged.
“The level of competition is raised,” she said. “And we definitely came to play.”
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