Reya Coe was one of my summer academy students this past summer. She boarded all nine weeks of the summer, and it was truly an amazing accomplishment from an 11-year-old girl. I had never seen anyone this young complete a full summer of intense training. I must add that she struggled in her matches, she wasn’t very consistent and couldn’t construct points very well. She was literally trying to overpower everyone she played. When Chris Welnetz took her to the Grand Slam at the beginning of the summer, he came back and said, “PJ, Reya was hitting the back fence in the air on some shots.” We knew we had to push her and that she would respond well.
After summer ended, she had expressed some genuine interest in joining the year-round academy. Because of her young age, I had some doubts on whether she could make it or not. Going back to my days in the academy, the average age was around 16 for boarders, we just didn’t have 11-year-olds. They simply could not handle the daily grind of school and tennis away from home. Reya is different though; she is beyond her years and I began to give it more thought.
Her parents finally decided it was time to send her, as Reya was begging to become a full-time boarding student. She joined us in mid-October, and an even tougher feat was joining a new group late in the semester. At age 11, Reya is probably one of our most improved players that we have had in years. In just a few months, she has gone from barely staying in Superchamps to now being ranked top 20 in Texas and top 200 in the U.S. for girls’ 12s. She traveled to Winter Nationals in Arizona during Christmas, and in her first national event, she won five rounds in singles, and three rounds in doubles. By contrast at age 12, I didn’t win a match in my first national event.
She has a ton of potential, and we believe she is the future for our top girls in the academy. She is a true “Newkie”; shows up every day ready to work and she also maintains a near-perfect GPA. Reya is the life of the party; at tournaments she always has a crew of girls with her. At Newks, everyone knows Reya and loves being around her; she loves to talk and loves to make fun of me constantly. She has been nominated for numerous sportsmanship awards as a young Texas player. Her future is bright, and she has ushered in a new era. She has three friends that are interested in boarding next year, all of them age 11. They see what she has accomplished and now they believe they can do it too. It takes a supreme amount of hard work and dedication to do what Reya has done in just a few months, and that speaks to the level of maturity this young girl has. We are proud to have her shaping this new era for Newks Academy!
–PJ HENDRIE, Academy Co-Director