Match Point: Get To Know Jessica Podlofsky
Feb. 19, 2013
Jessica describes herself as a grinder on the tennis court. "I'm not a big girl," she says, only 5-foot-3, so she has to make up for that lack of height and power with speed, running and counterpunching.
"I'm loud on the court," she says. "I like to fight. You can hear me." Among the players she most admires are Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer, both of them grinders, and Ferrer, especially, a counterpuncher. A good serve sets Jessica up, she says, and she can use her flat backhand to get her opponent on the run.
Her tennis career started at age 4. When her twin brother quit the game at 12, her parents gave her more lessons. She entered USTA tournaments - juniors, sectionals and nationals.
"It was a lot of alone time at a young age," she says, which gave her a taste of reality and increased her independence, something she thinks was good for her. Unlike college tennis, juniors cannot get coaching on the court, so, says Jessica, "you have to figure it out for yourself."
Her private coach while she was in high school in Port Washington, N.Y., had been the coach of the former UMass men's tennis team, so it was natural for her to think about UMass. Now a sports management major, she hopes perhaps eventually to get a job with a sports agency. This spring, as a second semester junior, she has a lot of requirements to fulfill.
Jessica is one of the team's three captains, a job she takes seriously. There's a lot of organizing and communicating, she says, keeping some of the burden off of Coach Judy Dixon's shoulders.
She helps team members by relaying information about schedules and matches, or when the coach is asking for more intensity in practice.
There are also individual questions to answer - helping players with nutrition, what to eat before a match, for instance. She recommends staying hydrated, and eating things like bananas (for potassium), apples, but not sugars. Good advice for everyone.