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10 Years Old, Two-Time State Champion

June 8, 2015 04:52 PM

Jonathon Braden
USTA South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The next Serena?

Mary_Kat
Mary Kat Stricklin and her doubles partner, Karsyn Misenheimer, after winning the doubles championship last month at Belton. (Submitted photo)

Maybe not, but Mary Kat Stricklin of Columbia is already a two-time state champion, and she’s only 10 years old.

At the recent USTA South Carolina state qualifier, Mary Kat won the singles and doubles championships of the 10 and under division.

“I just played my game,” Mary Kat said.

Rather than go for winners early in rallies, Mary Kat prefers to run her opponents side to side and wear them down. “I would work the point and then when I had her off the court, I would put it away,” she said.

She and other players in the division were aided by the USTA’s new format for 10 and Under Tennis. Kids now use smaller rackets and lower-bouncing balls to help make tennis more fun and easier for kids to learn.

Mary Kat also has been helped by her father, Joe Stricklin, who taught her how to play tennis. Joe played collegiate tennis at Francis Marion University in Florence and remains an active player through USTA Adult Leagues in Columbia. He and Mary Kat play almost every afternoon at the Dreher High School tennis courts.

“I think that it’s fun and I get to see my friends,” Mary Kat said of tennis.

Her favorite players are Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. “Serena, she likes to hit strong and that’s what I like,” Mary Kat said.

This weekend, Mary Kat will try to emulate her favorites when she plays against the best players in the South at the USTA Southern Closed Boys and Girls 10s Championships at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.

 

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