The senior captain was considered the sparkplug of Episcopal Academy’s InterAc champion girls’ tennis team. The No. 1 singles player, an All-Inter-Ac and All-Delco selection, “always came up big when we needed her,” according to EA girls’ tennis head coach Whit Powell.
Q: What do you think has been your best match of your Episcopal Academy tennis career? What was particularly working well for you that day?
A: My best match while at Episcopal was my first league match this year against Penn Charter’s No. 1 singles player. I played with a lot of confidence and consistency. Instead of tensing up in the third set tiebreaker, I relaxed and focused on playing my own game instead of playing my opponent’s game and I was serving well. It was also the deciding match for the team win and kept us in play for defending our inter-ac title.
Q: As the No. 1 singles player for EA, how did you see your leadership role on the squad, and how did you best try to display leadership?
A: Although I was the No.1 singles this year, my position was not any more important than any other position on our ladder. My leadership came from being a senior and having experience on the team. The most effective way I tried to displayed leadership was through my attitude on court during matches and during practice. We were often put into high pressure situations, whether it was close matches or in front of big crowds. To comfort the team I would always tell them “Pressure is a privilege” (Billie Jean King), be confident when you’re on the court, and most importantly work hard for every point.
Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game?
A: The strongest part of my game has always been my forehand. I have spent a great deal of time trying to perfect my technique and accuracy to the best of my ability.
Q: What part of your game are you currently working on the most?
A: I am currently working on my serve. I am building up my consistency and my confidence in my serve, because after all it is the only way I can begin a point.
Q: What did you think of this year’s EA-Agnes Irwin Day? Can you share with us your most vivid memory of that day?
A: This year was by far the most special out of the last five that I have competed in. Definitely a bitter-sweet moment, but it will be the most memorable because I was able to defeat AIS’ No. 1 singles player [Camille Smukler] for the first time in the past five years. This match was the best way to end my high-school tennis career alongside of my amazing teammates. My most vivid memory of the day is definitely the crowd. On typical match days our team doesn’t get such a large crowd, but on that day, all I saw was a flood of blue and white. Seeing the crowd filled my heart with pride and joy to be a part of Episcopal. I was motivated even more as I saw the lower schoolers hanging on to the fence screaming my name alongside my teachers, friends, and peers. It was truly the best experience ever.
Q: What (to you) has been the most memorable experience of your tennis career outside of EA? Can you share that experience with us?
A: My most memorable experience outside of Episcopal would have to be at an ATA national tournament in Atlanta, Georgia. I was playing for third or fourth place and I was down a set 6-0, 3-0. After realizing my opponent hadn’t been completely truthful in most of her calls I decided to call a line judge. I lost the next game, but miraculously I turned it around and won the set 7-5. I went on to win the next set 6-0 to place third in the tournament. I showed the most grit I think I ever have in that one match. It taught me to fight harder and to never give up.
Q: Who are your favorite tennis players? Do you try to pattern your game after any of them?
A: Serena Williams has been my favorite tennis player even before I began to play the sport. I try to emulate her in regards to her confidence and aggressiveness on the court because it shows dominance. She plays with so much grace and power that is admirable and she is definitely my role model on the court. Knowing how much pressure she is under, she always manages to overcome it.
Q: Who have been your top tennis mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from them?
A: I have had five amazing mentors that I am so grateful for. They are Lance Lee; Jon Glover; my current coach Christian Hill; my dad, Tauheed Browning; and Coach [Whit] Powell. The most valuable things that I have learned from them in regards to tennis is mindfulness on the court and meditation skills, always play with integrity, have confidence, and how it is necessary to have internal motivation to improve. Coach Powell has been extremely vital in my high school success. He has always taught that hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard and to be a class act.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-match preparation the day of a match.
A: On match days I wake up as early as possible to eat a good breakfast with protein and start hydrating. Then throughout the day I meditate. Before my match, I make sure I’m wearing my two lucky bracelets (my pink lokai bracelet, and my “humble & hungry” bracelet), I re-grip my rackets, then I do a dynamic warm up while listening to my pump up playlist, finally I take a few serves and hit on a wall if possible to be as loose as possible.
Q: What is your favorite tennis venue, and why?
A: My favorite tennis venue is definitely Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, my second home. I have been training there since I was 7 years old and those tennis courts will always hold a place in my heart. When I was 11, I had the opportunity to hit with Venus Williams. I have also had the opportunity to form lifelong relationships with my peers and coaches. Lastly, because my family is so involved at the facility. My dad is currently a coach there, my mother was the former President of the Parents’ Association, and my younger brother trains there also. This place embodies family in every sense of the word for me.
Q: What do you think you’d like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly appeals to you? What are your favorite colleges at the present time?
A: When I get to college I plan to major in Biology and continuing on to pursue a career in the field of medicine and specifically neuroscience. I currently like urban liberal arts schools on the east coast that value community, diversity, rigorous academics, and school spirit.
Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at EA? What sparked your interest in these activities?
A: I currently play the violin and I am a member of the school orchestra, I am also a member on the drum line, and I also participate in the Global Youth Leadership Institute. The reason I chose to be apart of the first two is because I have been playing the violin since the fourth grade and I just simply love music. I chose to be apart of GYLI because I was interested in traveling to different parts of the country and world to learn about different cultures and and further enhance my leadership skills.
Nadiyah Browning’s top picks
Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro.
TV show: House of Cards.
Movie: Les Miserables.
Pre-match pump-up song: Flawless Remix, by Beyonce.
Athlete: Serena Williams.
Person I admire most: “My mother because she works so hard and genuinely cares for other people. I admire her selflessness and her dedication to everything she does. She has always taught me to do everything with my best effort and attitude because those are the only things I can control.”
Team: Los Angeles Clippers.
Place to visit: The mall.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)
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