Player of the year Zaki completes fabulous high school career

When Zaina Zaki was a freshman in 2010, she was told her high school career would go by fast.

It went faster than Zaki anticipated, but plenty of success came along the way for one of the most accomplished players in Ches-Mont League history.

“I absolutely loved high school tennis,’ Zaki said. “Being on the Unionville team was great for me because I had the opportunity to represent my high school and play on a team in an individual sport. I’m going to miss it all.’

As Zaki looks back on a dominant scholastic career filled with numerous accolades, none meant more than the support of the Unionville faithful during a fantastic senior year capped by winning the Daily Local News All-Area Girls Tennis Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season.

“It was amazing getting congrats from Unionville teachers and having my student peers tell me what a good job I’m doing on the court,’ Zaki said. “It makes me feel my hard work has paid off and others are seeing that on a daily basis. I’m so excited to win this award again.’

Zaki accomplished plenty of her goals in her final campaign of scholastic tennis. One was to be named team captain, followed by getting the Indians to the district and state tournament.

The captain led Unionville to a 22-2 record en route to the Ches-Mont title. The Indians finished third in the District 1-AAA Championships and reached the PIAA semifinals.

Check, check, and check.

While Zaki accomplished all of her team goals, she set the bar high for a tremendous season in singles’ play. The senior set her sights won winning the PIAA Class AAA championship after finishing in third the year prior.

Zaki fell just short of her goal, falling to District 7 champion Callie Frey in the opening round of the PIAA Championships.

Despite the early round defeat, Zaki finished with an unbeaten regular season record which ended with the Ches-Mont American Division title. Zaki rode that momentum to a third place finish in the District 1-AAA Championships, defeating Wissahickon’s Maureen Devlin 6-1, 6-3 in the consolation match.

Zaki accomplished all this despite a stressful beginning to her season. Like many high school seniors, Zaki (a National Honor Society member) was wondering where she would be continuing her education and playing tennis at the collegiate level.

“I had two great schools I wanted to attend,’ Zaki said. “I wanted to be with my team so bad, but needed to go on official visits and retake the SAT. It was a tough decision.’

Zaki felt she made the right decision when she chose the University of Connecticut on a full scholarship. She will major in environmental engineering when arriving on campus next fall.

“Once I steeped foot on UConn’s campus, I knew this was where I wanted to be,’ Zaki said. “I know its cliché, but I enjoy the potential of saving the world someday.’

Zaki’s high aspirations of helping others are a true testament to her character on and off the court. All one needs to do is ask Unionville head coach Janet Johnston.

“Zaina’s got a personality you don’t forget,’ Johnston said. She is just a polite kid and has plenty of positive attributes to go with it. She has been true blue to her family, her school and her team throughout. Zaina is someone Unionville is very proud to say attended their school.’

As her four year career concludes, Zaki has accomplished plenty to take the Unionville girls tennis program to the next level. Zaki won the Ches-Mont American singles title four consecutive years and reached the PIAA tournament each season.

While racking up individual honors, Zaki took Unionville tennis to the next level. The Indians were an annual PIAA Class AAA title contender, finishing as a state runner-up in 2012.

Zaki now has time to recollect on all that she accomplished, but had only one thing to say when she looked back on the past four years.

“Hard work and dedication to something really pays off,’ Zaki said. “It was a lot of fun representing my school and I became a better player because of it.’

“It’s been an honor and a pleasure to coach such a talented, hard-working player,’ Johnson said. “Between the two of us, we have reached heights that have been hard to reach. My four years with Zaina were like surfing a perfect wave. It was a wonderful ride.’

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