Baldwin School’s Emma Sass is Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week

The Baldwin School junior, a member of the first team All-InterAc girls tennis team last fall, is off to a fast start for the Bears this season. She won her first two matches of the season against Lower Merion and Conestoga without dropping a set. She has played No. 1 singles for the strong Baldwin squad since her sophomore year.

Q: What do you think has been your best match of your Baldwin tennis career to date? What was particularly working well for you that day?

A: My best Baldwin tennis match was my match against the Episcopal Academy No. 1 singles player last year (Genevieve McCormick) at the InterAc Championships. I ended up losing the match 8-6, but every part of my game just felt good. We had some amazing rallies and I improved my game tremendously during the match.

Q: As the No. 1 singles player for the Bears, how do you see your leadership role on the squad, and how do you best try to display leadership?

A: I think the best way to lead is by example. I try my best in all of my matches and try to keep a positive attitude during practices. Tennis teams are quite small so I think that we are quite close to one another and this works in our favor. We all help and support each other before, during, and after matches.

Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game? What part of your game are you currently working on the most?

A: I think I would have to say that my ground strokes and serve are the strongest part of my game at the moment. My coach, Chris Racz, is very good at finding my weaknesses and assessing the right way to correct them. We work a lot on speed and balance, which is going to be very helpful to my game.

Q: What (to you) has been the most memorable experience of your tennis career outside of Baldwin? Can you share that experience with us?

A: Within the past year I began playing qualifiers for ITF (International Tennis Federation) tournaments. Last spring I competed in my first ITF tournament qualifying in Toronto and I was able to qualify for the main draw, which was very exciting. I look forward to returning to that tournament this spring, as well as another event that the same club hosts in a couple weeks.

Q: Who are your favorite tennis players? Do you try to pattern your game after any of them?

A: Roger Federer is one of my favorite tennis players. He has such perfection and precision in every part of his game. I admire Federer’s good sportsmanship and composure on the tennis court. Although he has been having trouble the last couple of years, Nadal has always been one of my favorites. He is tenacious, focused, and works hard for every single point regardless of his opponent. I try to implement the same mentality as much as I can.

Q: Who have been your top tennis mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

A: My current coach is Chris Racz. We’ve been working together for a year and a half and I have made tremendous strides in my game because of him. Chris played on the pro circuit for years and contributes a completely different perspective on tennis and my game. I have also spent time at Bollettieri Tennis academy in Bradenton, Florida. When there, I worked many hours with Ches Gibson and Margie Zesinger, both of whom helped me advance my skills technically. I worked with Chris Herdelin for years when I was younger and I feel that he got me off to a good start. I’d also like to mention my Baldwin School coaches, Jeff Sacks and Roni Sacks,  and Coach (Elsie) Pittochelli, the middle school tennis coach at Baldwin.

Q: Tell us a little about your pre-match preparation the day of a match.

A: I like to have a light meal a couple hours before a match. If the match is local, I like to warm up with my coach, or if it is not local, I try to find a girl at the tournament site to hit with. I stretch for about 30 minutes while listening to music right before my match and then I go play.

Q: What is your favorite tennis venue, and why?

A: My favorite place to play is on outdoor hard courts.

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: I am currently considering a major in the sciences with a goal of going to medical school. I have been interested in a career as a doctor and surgeon for quite a while. I am just starting to visit colleges, but I do not have a favorite one at this time.

Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Baldwin School? What sparked your interest in these activities?

A: I started playing the flute at Baldwin in fifth grade. Now I play in the Upper School orchestra. I had minimal experience playing an instrument before I started playing the flute, so I was very excited to try something new. Now I enjoy playing with my friends in orchestra and having fun with it. I participate in a club at Baldwin that supports a girls’ school in Liberia. This past summer I was an assistant counselor at the i2 STEM camp at Baldwin.

Emma Sass’ top picks

Book: The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan.

Author: Maya Angelou

TV show: Grey’s Anatomy and Newsroom.

Movie: Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Pre-match pump-up song: The Fighter, by Gym Class Heroes.

Athlete: Roger Federer.

Historical figures (past and/or present): “I admire Marie Curie for her perseverance in the field of science. She was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize. Malala Yousafzai is an incredible advocate for equality. I admire her for her unwillingness to back down from what she believes in.”

Place to visit: “I love going to the beach. My family does not have a specific place that we go to, but I really like tropical places.”

(To be selected as Main Line Athlete of the Week, an athlete must first be nominated by his or her coach.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply