Athlete Spotlight: Lee's Anna Wang

Before Sunday's Western Massachusetts Individuals Tournament,Anna Wang, one of the singles player on Lee's currently undefeated girls tennis team, stopped by to chat about preparing for the competition, playing for longtime volleyball coach John Warner, what exactly is a libero and much more.

Berkshire Eagle: What is your mindset heading into Individuals? Obviously your individual performance matters when you're performing with your team, but does your mindset change when it's just you out there?

Anna Wang: It doesn't really change because the tournament is kind of the same as what we're doing right now in season. I don't think it's good to change your mindset into thinking you have to play harder. You just have to keep doing what you're doing.

BE: During an interview last week, you said you need to adjust your goals after qualifying for the Western Mass. tournament; what did you mean by that?

AW: I know I'm more of a defensive player — also in volleyball — so I feel that just defending is not enough to improve my game. So I should try some angles and try to hit it a little harder with some topspin so there's more offensive power behind that.

BE: How difficult is it to take a more offensive approach?

AW: I definitely think I need to find some balance. Sometimes when I try to hit harder, [the ball] goes out because I don't practice that as much because I'm so defensive. So I should try to work on aiming it a little more and angles.

BE: Speaking of defense. How would you describe a libero's job in volleyball?

AW: I would say it's someone who stays in the back row and does whatever she can to get the ball up for the team to have a chance at hitting the ball offensively at the other team.

BE: When there's someone on the court that's not getting kills and spikes, do you feel that liberos can be overlooked in their importance to the team?

AW: I definitely think so, because when you think of getting the point you usually just think of the person hitting it really hard, but you don't think of the back line of it.

BE: How much does your performance at libero affect the rest of the team?

AW: It definitely affects other people. When you see someone messing up, you might get down on yourself and that could affect the whole game.

BE: What's it like to play for coach John Warner? He's been around a long time and has really built Lee volleyball into a powerhouse.

AW: I think it's really fun, because he gives us drills to work on. Working on passing and serving, and trying to aim at spots so you can use it for games and stuff. He's very knowledgeable and he knows a lot about volleyball, so it's cool learning from him.

BE: The rivalry with Frontier, what's that been like over the years? I know they're like the thorn in your side.

AW: I think its just a challenge always to play Frontier and it allows us to push ourselves, because Frontier is on a whole different level than what we're used to playing. I think it's cool to relax a little when you play them because you know they're going to bring everything they have. So we should just relax and play our game.

BE: How hard is it mentally to stay focused playing tennis, especially when you're out there by yourself, without teammates to rely on?

AW: I really don't think about it much. When I mess up I kind of just laugh at myself. I know there's always the next point and you should just get over it.

BE: I know you guys are undefeated right now. What's the potential of the team?

AW: I think we have very high potential because we have a lot of players that played over the summer and have practice by themselves, hitting against the wall. I know that even if someone has a bad day there's people who can back us up.

BE: In addition to volleyball, Lee also has a storied tennis tradition. How does Lee develop such talented tennis players?

AW: I think it starts at the youth level, because I know at the elementary school, we help kids when they start really young. And then they grow up and take an interest in tennis and they want to play more. They also go to the summer programs and that's how they grow up to be like us.

BE: Did you start playing as a young player?

AW: I started in seventh grade. I wasn't [playing] in elementary school because I hadn't taken an interest yet. I wanted to try it out in seventh grade and I stuck with it.

BE: When you're not playing sports, what do you like to do for fun?

AW: I like reading, and even at practice after school, sometimes I'll go out and play again with my cousin. So it keeps me busy.

BE: Where's your favorite place to eat in Lee?

AW: We don't really go out much. My family has a restaurant so we just eat there.

BE: Where's your family's restaurant?

AW: Panda Garden on Main Street.

BE: Do you work at the restaurant.

AW: Sometimes, when they need help translating and stuff.

BE: Is that fun? Challenging?

AW: I like working there. There are some times when there are hard customers to deal with, but it's OK.


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