Meet the Player: Taylor Dean

IMG_7550 Earlier this month I had the chance to sit down with the gracious, serious, ferocious, and often hilarious Taylor Dean . . .

Full name: Taylor Dean. That’s it, no middle name!

Age: 15, born April 6, 2001

Interests outside of tennis? Skiing, swimming, and basketball for fun.

When did you get started in tennis? I started when I was about four or five, just for a couple hours a week. By the time I was eleven, I was playing every day. By the time I was 13, I played two to three hours every day. Then, when I was 14, I started homeschooling so I could play tennis four or five hours a day. Sometimes I have ups and downs but I mostly always just love tennis. I love playing matches and I love practicing. And I really like the homeschooling since I can set my own pace and tailor things to my own interests.

You’ve lived many places, haven’t you? Well, I was born in Switzerland, lived there seven years, then we lived in France for 1 year, then moved to the States, where we’ve been for seven years. I have dual citizenship, though I feel mostly American at this point. But one day, if I go pro, I want to play tennis for Switzerland. It’s where I was born and I still have family there, my grandparents and my aunts, and I’d love to represent it.

Favorite school subject?  History. Right now I’m doing World Cultures. I’m learning about cultures and religions from around the world, and it’s so interesting! I’m getting a sobering sense of the history of war in the world, too, which is thought-provoking.

You’re bilingual, right?  Yes, I’ve always spoken French and English. This is my second year studying French in school, and while it’s somewhat easy for me because I understand it completely, when it comes to writing it’s still a pain to learn to use the right accents and spelling.

Singles or doubles, indoor or out, hardcourt or clay, spin or flat? I like hardcourt AND clay, prefer to play outdoors, and I really prefer singles because then I’m the one controlling the ball. It’s hard because there’s such a lot of internal self-talk while you play tennis, and it’s really better for me when I don’t have a partner to blame things on! My doubles partner is often my sister, which I love, but there can be stress there as well. I’m tall and I like playing aggressive, I like going to the net, and I like to hit with spin.

What do you do to prepare for a tournament? I always stretch before a match. And I put myself in a bubble — shutting out all the little anxiety thoughts about which court I’ll be on and everything. I listen to music and just focus on breathing and being prepared to play. I’ll run a little bit, do some lunges to warm up my muscles, use the clubs and ribbons to practice range of motion and warm everything up. I don’t ever sit still when I’m preparing for a match, that’s for sure.

What kind of music do you have on your pre-game playlist? I like to listen to music with an affirmative message, reminding me to be confident and strong, or instrumental music with no words, like classical. Then to get fired up I listen to regular pop playlists on shuffle.

Racquet: Wilson Pro Staff, strung with TNT and hybrid. I need strong strings because I pop them a lot!

I’ve noticed you wear a brace for your scoliosis? Yes, I have been wearing one for the last year, 16-18 hours a day, but now I’m trying a new method, special hard orthotics that I put in my shoes. They’re pretty new, but I’m hoping they’ll do the trick. The brace only bugs me when I’m sitting down — but then again, I don’t sit down all that much!

Dream Day?  To meet Roger Federer! I love him so much! I went to a training place in Switzerland where he had also trained, which was cool. And I got his autograph at the US Open. He makes tennis look so easy, it’s so inspiring. And then to finish the day, I’d play a pro match, like, say, the finals at Wimbledon. It’d be a big day!

If you could be any animal, what would it be? A cheetah, because they are the fastest animal on earth and I would love to experience that level of speed.

What’s coming up on your calendar? Hopefully more ITF tournaments. I did one in the Cayman Islands a while back, and then one in Canada more recently. I’m hoping to play one over the summer. Plus I’ll do some other tournaments over the summer.

What advice would you give a young girl just getting started in tennis? Well, if she really loves it, I’d encourage her to go for it, play with her whole heart and go all the way. But her family should also know to take really good care of her health so she can be really strong and have a strong immune system. I’ve always wanted to be a pro tennis player, so I can understand that this little girl would have a very powerful drive, so I’d hope that her family would support her and believe in her and help her believe in herself.

How are you liking playing with Carrington Tennis? It’s perfect! We all get along so well and it’s amazing training. We work very hard and we also have a lot of fun every day.

Thank you, Taylor!

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