Tale of two talents
Avon junior equally adept in the pool or at the net
By Mike Beas
Swimming and tennis aren’t commonly a two-sport athlete’s preferences, though Avon junior Erika Becker makes it appear almost effortless.
In the winter, Becker takes part in two individual swim events, the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly and contributes to as many as two of the Orioles’ relay efforts during a meet. Under normal circumstances, she would be the tennis squad’s No. 1 singles player.
Unless, of course, Becker was part of Avon’s top doubles tandem.
“Erika can play singles or doubles, and it always doesn’t turn out that way,” said Orioles tennis coach Robert Mize. “It helps us match up against teams a lot better, especially in the postseason. Even though Erika played No. 1 singles for us last season, she prefers playing doubles, having that interaction, and her best friend [junior Yamana Uno] is her doubles partner. Erika is a dual-sport athlete, so she leads by example. Everything she performs at she does at a high level, which makes the other kids work harder.”
Becker took part in a Q&A with the ICON:
Q: When did you start playing tennis, and who was it that got you started?
A: I probably started around 5 years old with my whole family. My dad [Jim] taught my mom [Kesara], and my sister [Sabrina, a 2014 graduate] played No. 1 singles when she was at Avon.
Q: Why do you like playing No. 1 doubles more than No. 1 singles?
A: I like playing with somebody else because it’s more fun and less pressure. I don’t think it’s that different going back and forth. With singles, I have to make sure I don’t hit my angles so sharp because I don’t have the whole court to use.
Q: Do you consider yourself a swimmer who plays tennis or a tennis player who swims?
A: (Laughing) I still haven’t really decided. I took a year off from swimming as a sophomore, but I missed it, and that’s what brought me back.
Q: Does being a good swimmer benefit you in any way when tennis season comes around?
A: In swimming you need a lot of stamina, so that helps me in long tennis matches. They both help with stamina because you run a lot with tennis.
Q: Your mom and sister were accomplished tennis players. How much of a factor have they been in your development as a player?
A: They’re probably been 100% of it. I practice with my mom at least three or four times a week.
Q: You’re an excellent student at Avon (4.8 grade-point average and ranked 24th academically in a class of approximately 700 students). What would you like to eventually major in at college, and are you wanting to be an athlete at the next level?
A: I’m still deciding, but I have an interest in the biology field. I’m still not sure if I want to play sports in college.
Photo by Eric Pritchett