After realizing her true passion at the tender age of eight, senior Miranda Deng pulled off her swim goggles and cap and traded them in for a sun visor and tennis racket.
After watching her brother hit a tennis ball around for years, Deng decided she wanted to get in on the action. She started to hit around with him along with doing clinics on the side. “I always followed my brother. He swam, so I swam. He played tennis, so of course I played tennis too,” Deng said.
When Deng turned 10, she found that her hobby was turning into something much bigger. She knew then that she wanted to play in college and she knew what she had to do to get there. “I really started practicing then with even more intensity. I would try to practice every day but if I wasn’t playing tennis one day, I was working on conditioning,” Deng said.
Going into high school, Deng had no expectations of winning three Maryland state tennis titles or being recruited to play in college. All she hoped for was a spot on the team and teammates to support her through the years.
Following her 2013 win of the number one singles title over a Whitman senior her freshman year, Deng continued her winning streak and secured a second state title her sophomore year and a third state title her junior year. “I didn’t think I would win states three consecutive years but I’m glad I did since it furthered my vision of playing in college,” Deng said.
Junior year Deng took unofficial visits to 10 different schools on the East Coast, and was able to narrow it down to two serious contenders her senior year, but one school in particular felt especially right for her. “After I took my visit to the Naval Academy, I realized that I could totally see myself there. It had a great environment and academic program which was exactly what I was looking for, a good balance,” Deng said.
Along with tennis shaping Deng’s competitive side, it has also made her calmer under stressful situations and has helped her to develop better time management skills. She can now study under less stress as she has learned how to “balance high school, practice, and homework without wasting any time,” Deng said.
Through the years, Deng has had to overcome her perfectionism and accept that everything will be okay even if she loses a match. She has maintained faith in herself and knows that one loss does not define her whole season. “I’ve learned to turn my losses into figurative wins as I still gave it my all and got to be on the court,” Deng said.
Tennis taught her how to be independent and self-reliant. “I’ve learned to love it. You lose by yourself and you make mistakes by youself. You can’t rely on anyone else when you’re out there, it’s all up to you what player you’re going to be,” Deng said.