McKinley Rice

McKinley Rice

There’s no doubt tennis is a family affair in McKinley Rice’s family. The junior from East Forsyth plays with her dad Rick nearly every weekend until high school season starts.

Rice, who started playing in the sixth grade at Kernersville Middle School, gets her inspiration from her dad.

“My dad is really good,” she said. “He played in school.”

She likes the individuality tennis offers.

“I like playing singles,” Rice said. “I’ve played basketball since elementary school, so I’ve always played on a team. Tennis was something new where I could play on my own.”

Rice said keeping score is the only thing she dislikes about the game.

“It’s annoying to keep score,” she said. “I remember all the times I’ve messed up the score in a match and have to stop and figure it out.”

Playing singles is her favorite.

“I like not being able to rely on someone else to help or keep you motivated,” Rice said. “I like playing the baseline and hitting short shots. I try to put a spin on it.”

Rice said she’s good at moving and footwork.

“I feel like I can get to balls pretty quickly,” she said. “My lob is where I get most of my footwork.”

She’s working on her quickness to the net.

“Coming to the net, I don’t feel like I come quick enough,” Rice said. “That’s something I can work on.”

One of the toughest shots is a high lob, according to Rice.

“It’s so high you have to be in the right position to hit the ball in the right spot,” she said. “I want to put a lot of power into it. It’s difficult when you’re in the middle of a match.”

Rice said she gets frustrated when committing a mistake on an easy point.

“When I have an easy point and know I can finish the point, but I mess up,” she said. “It’s annoying to know that you could have had that point.”

When that happens, she usually talks with her coach or doubles partner.

“Between points I’ll talk to my coach and he calms me down,” she said. “It’s really easy to communicate with him.”

Rice said a goal this season was to not give in to frustration.

“Personally, I wanted to try my best to not give up during matches even though I was frustrated,” she said. “I wanted to never stop hustling because as long as I’m moving, I feel like I have a good chance of keeping up, of getting points. I think I did pretty well.”

—Ken Winfrey

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Ken Winfrey

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