GRAND RAPIDS — Despite taking up the sport of tennis relatively late in the eighth grade, it didn’t take long for Eva Kangas to get proficient at the game.
In fact, she has become so proficient that she has been the No. 1 singles player for the Grand Rapids/Greenway (GRG) girls tennis team for the past two seasons.
“It is something I definitely learned quickly,” said Kangas, a senior. “I really like how tennis is a life-long sport and I also really like how tennis gives me a way to be involved in my community through coaching youth and Special Olympics athletes.”
GRG coach Jen Dulong said Kangas is a pleasure to coach and an extremely hard worker.
“Eva is such a hard worker both on and off the court,” said Dulong. “From watching her doing private tennis lessons, even after a long match she’s right out there coaching young athletes. She is just so kind and patient with them too, so she has been a wonderful asset to the team.”
Kangas – the daughter of Jeanine and Rick Kangas – feels her greatest physical attribute on the courts is her ability to be consistent.
“I am a perfectionist; I don’t like to miss too many shots,” Kangas explained. “I really try to be consistent and quick on my feet to get to every ball.”
Dulong said Kangas does a lot of things right out on the tennis courts.
“She is a very good tennis player. Eva is very consistent and she gets everything back,” said Dulong. “She is quick getting to the ball and that has been a very huge asset for her this year.”
Dulong said the team is still waiting to find out if there will be a state tournament this fall. With sections coming up next week, the coach said everybody is going to hope for the best.
“I am definitely hoping they decide to have state competition and that we have a chance of making it,” Dulong explained. “We have only teams going to state this year and no individuals.”
Added Kangas, “I just hope that our team can advance as far as we can and just play our best.”
Kangas also excels in the classroom with an unweighted grade point average of 4.0.
“I think academics are very important to student-athletes and more important than the sport itself,” Kangas explained. “Studying and time management are very important for me. I think tennis is a nice stress reliever after a long day of studies and it gives me a little break before I go and do my homework.”
Kangas said her goal is to play tennis in college. She is currently undecided but she has looked into the College of St. Scholastica and St. Olaf programs.
“I think playing college for me would just be a way to continue my passion for the sport, learn more about it and improve my game,” Kangas said. She plans to double major in English education and French education with the idea of becoming an English and French teacher.