Eliza Freedman might be The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Player of the Year for girls tennis, but it’s not the individual award that pushes her.
Instead, it’s the opportunity to win for the team that motivates her.
Freedman said she enjoys playing the sport and helping her team more, which is why she probably prefers doubles over singles play. But she is a strong singles player, nonetheless.
At a young age, Freedman played small tennis tournaments in Middle Georgia, and by the time she was in the eighth grade, she was playing varsity tennis at Stratford. Her head coach, Jaime Kaplan, said she moved Freedman to doubles, and she went right along with it.
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“It’s a pleasure coaching Eliza,” Kaplan said. “She’s a team player.”
Kaplan said Freedman is a lot better at high school tennis than individual tennis because because of the team aspect.
Both recalled Stratford’s state run this past season. Kaplan and Freedman said the team didn’t expect the success it had during the GHSA Class A tournament, and leading that success was Freedman. Kaplan said Freedman allowed her state ranking drop for the sake of the team. She focused more on Stratford and less on her individual success to propel the Eagles to the state final.
“It was really exciting,” Freedman said of beating three players who were ranked higher than her. “After I won, our team had won, and it was nice to see our team advance.”
Freedman remembers when she first realized she was talented. She was 10 years old, playing in the Peach State junior qualifier. She was playing doubles, and despite a loss, she realized how strong she could be and how strong of a doubles player she is. Six years later, she was able to translate that to Stratford.
But tennis isn’t all Freedman wants in life. She has no aspirations of playing at the professional level. She balances her academics with her tennis and hopes to go to a college that will fill both categories. While only losing two matches this season and beating three top 100 players in the UTSA junior tennis ranking, she maintained a 3.8 GPA for her sophomore year.
“It would be great to be able to play in college,” Freedman said. “If I could go to a school for both tennis and academics, that would be good. I don’t want to go to school just for tennis.”