WSSU signs tennis talent
Now that the high school part of her tennis career is finished, Aja Grant looks to the future. Grant, who recently graduated from Reagan, is eager to see what’s in store for the upcoming school year when she steps on court to play for Winston-Salem State.
“Playing college tennis has always been one of my goals,” said Grant. “I’ll need to get accustomed to playing against better players, but a lot of that has to do with focus. What it comes down to is for me to compete and get better every day, and to have fun while I’m doing it. I’m very excited about having new life experiences.”
Grant, a co-captain the past two seasons, signed with the Rams in May. She enjoyed a stellar four-year varsity career as one of the Raiders’ top performers in singles and doubles. During her time at Reagan, she was a two-time All-Central Piedmont 4-A Conference pick.
As a senior, she was a key contributor for Reagan, which finished the season undefeated in CPC play. In the process, the Raiders won their first conference tennis title in school history. Grant played No. 3 singles (12-2 record) and partnered with teammate Montse Mesalles to win the conference tournament championship in doubles. The Grant-Mesalles combo placed third in the Midwest 4-A Regionals and qualified for the state tournament.
“It’s been a pleasure for me to watch her development as a player,” said Reagan coach Scott Larson. “Aja was inconsistent as a freshman, but she improved every year and has an excellent forehand. Given her strong desire to excel, I see no reason why she won’t have continued success at the college level.”
Rams Women’s Tennis Coach Brian Coxton is confident that Grant will make a smooth transition to the college game as a freshman. After watching Grant go through a workout this past spring with Deja Stewart, WSSU’s No. 1 singles player, it didn’t take long for Coxton to make his assessment.
“Some of Aja’s strengths are her mental approach to the game and her competitiveness,” he said. “She has great footwork and is solid with her ground strokes. Not only that, but she’s positive and energetic. As a coach, those are the type of athletes that you want to bring into your program.”
Looking back on her time at Reagan, Grant acknowledged that learning how to handle the emotional highs and lows of competition was probably her biggest challenge. During her career, she suffered through her share of tough losses. Some of those losses could have produced a different outcome. But in going through those ups and downs, Grant learned how to persevere and maintain a winning mindset.
“There will be tough losses,” she said. “But if you’re going to be successful, you can’t afford to dwell on mistakes to the point where it keeps you from improving and playing the best you can play. You look at tough losses as a learning experience. When you do that, you focus your attention on doing the things you need to do to win.”