Jessica King: the queen of Ames High Tennis

Freshman Jessica King says she does not remember this particular incident, but according to her parents, she came back from her first tennis lesson at the age of 5 and said that tennis was what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. Since then, King has not turned back. Though she is only in her freshman year, she has already made herself known as a powerful player on the Ames High girls’ tennis team and has quickly risen to the top of the line-up. The term “freshman phenom” is not to be used loosely, but it would be fair to say its use is justified in the case of Jessica King. Upon first glance, it may seem surprising to some that King, with her soft-spoken demeanor, is an intense player on the tennis court—but appearances deceive. Behind the quiet disposition lies a competitive drive that motivates King to succeed. “I’m very competitive,” King said. “I like competing more than practicing.” While much of King’s success comes from her dedication and motivation, there is no doubt that another factor is the vast amount of experience King has had on the court. Coach Len Thiede of the Ames High girls’ tennis team has already been impressed with how much experience King has behind her. “Jessica’s probably come to Ames High girls’ tennis with more experience behind her than any other girl in all my 28 years; she’s probably come in with more match experience than any other girl here.” Thiede said. “There’s not much she hasn’t seen.” While King’s life may be currently consumed by tennis, she has dabbled in other sports in the past, including soccer, ballet, and kung fu. However, the appeal of the individual aspect of tennis is part of what has kept King continuing to play the sport. “You’re out on your own. You always have to be thinking on your own.” King said. King leads a very busy life, most of which is taken up by—no surprise here—tennis. Before the tennis season began, King practiced for two and half hours each day. Aside from playing for Ames High, she is currently involved in a tennis clinic that meets several times a week and travels to tournaments around the country. King admitted that the sheer amount of time spent on tennis does cause problems in her life sometimes. “I never have any free time. I do get stressed sometimes. Sometimes it builds up so much, I take it out on my family,” King said. However, tennis is not the only part of King’s active life. She also plays violin in the Ames High orchestra and enjoys drawing and writing in her free time; she even expressed a desire to write for the Ames High WEB later in high school. King has made goals even beyond her high school career. “One of her goals—and my goal—is college tennis,” Thiede said. “She’s got a great start.” King also said she is looking to go professional in the future. But King also has ambitions that apply more to the present. Before the season began, King said her goal was to win every match; however, she said that since that goal has been struck down, she is now looking to go to the state tennis tournament. Although the state tournament is still a ways down the road, this year’s girls’ tennis team looks like it has the potential to make it, with Jessica King aiding the team to the top.