Today I’m welcoming teen tennis player Stephanie Hazell.
ANTHONY: Hi, Stephanie! I’ve interviewed teen-age singers and actors, but you’re the first teen athlete, so thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with me. So let’s talk tennis! How old were you when you started playing, and what got you interested in it?
STEPHANIE: I was about 6 or 7 when I first started, my grandma thought I had to much energy so she put me in ever sport possible and tennis is just the one that stuck. I still play soccer and basketball but I focus much more on tennis.
ANTHONY: What is your practice regimen like?
STEPHANIE: I play about 5 hours a week if I’m lucky right now I have been super busy but I’m going to try and start playing more soon! Most of the people I’m playing against are playing about 20-25 hours a week, which is what I should be doing, but for some reason I am able to keep up with them for now.
ANTHONY: How often are you away from home for tournaments? How do you balance school and tennis?
STEPHANIE: I have been to Europe three times playing in over 20 countries, I have also been to Australia and I played the qualies for the junior Australian open. I have to miss a ton of school for tennis but I have been good with keeping up, at least so far! Finding time to do school, tennis and hanging out with friends is hard but it’s totally worth it in the end.
ANTHONY: Do you work with coaches/trainers, and if so how many and in what ways do they help you become a better tennis player?
STEPHANIE: I only work with one coach and his name is Chris Lewis he has been so amazing for the past few year I would be no where without him! I have been with a few coaches over the years but Chris is the only one who has ever clicked he’s perfect for me and totally understands my game.
ANTHONY: Who are some of your tennis heroes, and why?
STEPHANIE: I love Federer and Isner for guys and for girls there is an upcoming girl named Marina Erakovic. My coach was her coach when she was young and I have hit with her and she is such a sweet genuine girl and I look up to her very much!!!!
ANTHONY: You seem to have a lot of parental support. Do you think it’s important for parents to consider tennis as a sports option for their kids equally with the bigger team sports? Why or why not?
STEPHANIE: Yes, just because tennis isn’t as well known as some other sports doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Tennis is always been a huge part of my life, I have met so many amazing people through it that will last me a life time, and that’s why I do it. Not only to maybe make it my career but for the amazing life lessons it has taught me.
ANTHONY: A lot of schools put more emphasis on those team sports than they do on “solo” sports like tennis, track, bowling and swimming. Why do you think this happens?
STEPHANIE: Yeah your totally right they put a lot more emphasis on team sports and I believe that’s because they have more people willing to support them but tennis is becoming bigger an bigger and all it needs is time, it’s going to be as big as football one day!
ANTHONY: What are you personal short and long term goals for playing tennis?
STEPHANIE: Right now I’m focused a lot on school but I have a few huge tournaments coming up I’m hoping to do well in. I would really like to play tennis through college and see where that takes me but the best thing that could happen would be for me to turn pro.
ANTHONY: I know you’ve said tennis is your life, but outside of tennis, what else do you enjoy doing?
STEPHANIE: I play soccer and basketball for my highschool and teams outside of school. I also freeline, I like to bake, hang with friends and I have been doing a lot of work with charities and I have loved that as well!
ANTHONY: You’re friends with a lot of the young actors I’ve interviewed lately (Sam Lant, Taylor Hay, and Justin Tinucci to name three). Have you considered pursuing an acting career?
STEPHANIE: Umm not really I have always been the tom boy sports chick but I can also be that super girly-girly that loves shopping and talking about guys. If I ended up doing some modeling for sports or something like that I would do it. I’m not opposed to maybe get in to it in the future it might be something I end up loving like tennis.
ANTHONY: You’re also a part of Sam’s Ronald McDonald House fundraiser. How did you get involved with that, and how much have you raised so far?
STEPHANIE: Sam and I know each other really well and he asked if I would like to walk with him and since I am very into charities I told him I would love to. I have raised $1,681 so far but I’m still raising. I can not wait to walk with everyone on April 1st!
ANTHONY: How can people donate to support you and the team and help Ronald McDonald House out?
STEPHANIE: They can donate to my personal page for the fundraiser!
I also have an event on Facebook that has all the info and the link to my page.
ANTHONY: What other causes or charities are important to you, and how do you support them?
STEPHANIE: I love charities and I have been trying to get more involved with them. I’m doing the Ronald McDonald walk and at my school I am part of FCA, which is Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as well as ASPCA, UNICEF and a few others. Any charity that I have time to help out with I do!
ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them that they should?
STEPHANIE: Hmm this is a hard one, my favorite book right now would have to be a classic and it’s to kill a mockingbird I have read it many time and just read it again for school. A good reason to read this book is although I have read it many times every time I read it I find out something new! And I think that’s so cool that you can read something over and over and still find out something you did realize before.
ANTHONY: Thanks, Stephanie!
You can follow Stephanie on Twitter as @stephaniehazell to keep up-to-date with her tennis career and her fundraising for Ronald McDonald House and her other charities. You can also see my interviews with Stephanie’s friends and fellow RMDH fundraisers Sam Lant, Taylor Hay and Justin Tinucci by clicking on their names.
These Crazy Kids Next Door are walking for RMDH on April 1st, just a day or so from now. Donate to Stephanie, or to her team’s page, to help them get to their $10,000 goal before they walk!