by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Rogers tennis has never produced an athlete-of-the-week before, but Danielle Anderson is an easy choice as the first Royal for the honor.
The school’s all-time win leader by far with 54, she has held the No. 1 slot for three years, was the first to make all-conference (three times now) and this year led the Royals to their first Mississippi 8 championship.
“Danielle has raised the bar for the whole team, with all her off-season work,” said coach Debbie Conley. “The team sees how much it she has done and they want to do the same.”
Anderson, who wins mainly with a piercing backhand and peppy court coverage, is 19-7 this year and 54-44 in her career, taking on the opponents’ aces. She was conference singles runner-up this year.
“Danielle is quite an athlete, with all the sports she’s done,” said Conley. “Not only is she versatile. but very determined. When she decides to do something she puts all her effort into it.”
Anderson tried golf, soccer, gymnastics and dance before stumbling into tennis the summer before eighth grade.
“I was looking for a soccer ball in the garage and I found my mom’s racquet, and a ball was right there, too,” said Anderson. “I started hitting against the garage wall. It was a real stress reliever.”
Tennis became her favorite right away.
“I realized how much fun it is, and how much there is you can work on.”
Another reason: “I love the outfits! Tennis outfits are absolutely my favorite. I love matching my shoes and skirt and top.”
Anderson played No. 1 on JV that fall, then made varsity ninth grade, playing six of the seven spots, settling at No. 3 singles. She was 13-12 overall.
Anderson took over the No. 1 slot in 10th grade and has made all-conference each year based on power points (wins weight to position in the lineup). She was 8-15 as a sophomore, 14-10 as a junior and 19-8 so far this year.
Asked about career highlights, she lists being the first Royal all-conference, winning 11 straight matches this year, and the recent 6-0 run through conference.
“The biggest is being conference champs,” she said. “When Rogers started tennis, they were 0-14 that year.”
Anderson is a cheery, chatty, confident youth who competes fiercely but handles defeat gracefully. She’s been team captain two years and helps set a tone of working hard and having fun.
Her career is just about over now as Rogers enters a power-packed Class AA sectional. “I probably can’t make state but I want to go as far as I can,” she said.
Anderson played varsity golf as a freshman, averaging about 51, with a low of 42, at the No. 3 slot. She opted to play JV as a sophomore and didn’t play last year, as tennis took over.
Though just 5-foot-2 and 113 pounds, she packs a punch, having spent plenty of time in the weight room.
“I like to look toned,” Anderson said. “And if you’re stronger you last longer on the court, to the end of the match.”
Anderson wants to attend some college in Alabama “because it’s warm, I can play tennis all the time, and I love the accents.”
As for long-term goals, she smiles, “I can’t decide if I want to be an anesthesiologist, or an ESPN reporter.”
THE ANDERSON SCORECARD
Personal file – Age: 17 … Family: parents Bob and Julie; sister Trisha, 20 … Sport: tennis, formerly golf … Academics: 3.77 GPA … Other activities: National Honor Society … College plans: someplace in Alabama, undecided on major
Favorite stuff – Class: clay … TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Raising Hope” … Movies: “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and “Dear John” … Reading: Jodi Picault novels … Food: anything with bacon … Team: Alabama and LSU football … Athletes: Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova … Kickback activity: relaxing and fishing a