BY BROOKE MASON , ’22. PHOTOS COURTESY ANNA LEACH.
At age 4, senior Anna Leach was gifted her first tennis racket by her father. Today, she is one of four captains of Upper Arlington’s Varsity A Girls Tennis Team.
Leach began playing tennis with her sisters and father at the Upper Arlington High School Tennis Courts and Swim and Racquet Tennis Courts. She continued to play at Swim and Racquet but received her first lessons at The Players’ Club.
Leach played throughout middle school and has played all four years of high school, participating on the Upper Arlington’s Varsity B Girls Tennis Team freshman and sophomore year. Both junior and senior year, she made the varsity A team. Each year, by competing against her team members and improving during the off-season, Leach moved up the team’s lineup.
“We have like team matches, which is when I play third singles, and then we have individuals like states, and I’ll be playing doubles in that,” Leach said.
Both the UAHS tennis community and the psychological effects of the game have affected Leach.
“I think tennis has had a pretty big impact on my life. It keeps me active… I know a lot of people on the team… It keeps me focused,” Leach said. “You have to be pretty strong mentally to play tennis. You have to stay focused because every point counts.”
However, the biggest influence on Leach’s tennis career is her father, Dr. John Leach.
“My dad had played tennis all growing up. He played on the middle school team at Jones and then at the high school. He also played in college at Ohio State,” Leach said. “He was on varsity all four years. He also won [doubles at] states his sophomore year.”
Growing up and still today, Leach, her sisters and her father play tennis whenever they can.
“When we go on vacations, like to the beach, we try to bring four rackets so we can play doubles together,” Leach said.
In addition to playing for fun, Leach’s father helps her improve her skills; while he was never an official coach, he often gives pointers and tips to Leach during practice sessions and after matches.
“He always gives me tips on basically everything; he gives a lot of tips after tournaments and stuff: tells me what to improve, always pushing me to get better and work hard,” Leach said. “It’s been pretty informal, I have other coaches that are more formal. But he’s always been a coach as well.”
Playing and practicing together as well as talking about tennis led to the sport becoming a means of bonding for the father-daughter duo.
“We play a lot together… we’ve gotten closer through that, and sometimes we watch matches on TV and stuff, like the professionals playing,” Leach said.
Although having a parental figure with a personal connection to a sport can result in more pressure, Leach is grateful that her father introduced her and encouraged her to play tennis.
“Tennis to me is basically like, it’s probably my favorite part about high school,” Leach said. “I don’t think I would honestly be playing tennis if he hadn’t played tennis.”