A No. 1 ranking nationally? A lofty goal?
For most tennis players, yes. Quite lofty.
But for 13-year-old Emma Navarro, a No. 1 national ranking isn’t such an unrealistic dream. She already is ranked 37th nationally in girls 14 in the final USTA rankings for 2014, and still has a year left in 14s to make her dream come true as early as the 2015 rankings.
As well as being the area’s highest-ranked junior nationally, Navarro also is the area’s highest-ranked junior in the Southern rankings (No. 2 in girls 14). She also is ranked 17th in Southern girls 16.
“My goal is to be No. 1 in the nation,” Navarro said Friday. And, yes, she has an eye on a pro career.
Navarro, a 5-4 right-hander, trains at LTP Tennis under Jerry Albrikes. She is home-schooled and practices tennis four hours a day, six days a week. She also participates in a daily hour-long fitness program at LTP.
Online schooling lasts five hours daily. So, there isn’t a lot of time left for fun things.
“I really love tennis,” she proclaims.
Many juniors struggle in making the transition from pre-teen tennis to the upper junior levels, but judging from her high ranking in 16-and-under that shouldn’t be the case for Navarro.
“I’m looking for Emma to get even better when she hits her growth spurt,” said Albrikes, who has been teaching Navarro since she was 7 or 8 years old. “She is really quick, strong and fast.
“She hits with a lot of spin like boys, and her serve gets better and better, and more accurate every year. Her serve is fundamentally sound. There is not a lot of things that can go wrong with her serve.”
Navarro spent this cold weekend playing in the girls 18 division of the Family Circle Cup junior tournament, losing to University of Mississippi-bound third seed Brooke Stevens early Saturday morning.
Just when it appeared that Wando might make a run at the Class AAAA state championship, the Warriors have lost Jacob Jahn, the area’s highest-rated junior boy nationally (63rd in boys 14) and Southern (No. 3) in 2014 final rankings. “He will not be playing for Wando — with his crazy schedule and trying to work on both 14s and 16s, we just couldn’t make it work this year,” Jacob’s mother, Robin Jahn, said.
“He’s still in middle school, so there’s plenty of years of tennis ahead for him.”
She said her All-Lowcountry son would attend Academic Magnet next school year and hopes to play for the Raptors.
But don’t sell coach Winde Ellenburg’s Wando outfit short yet. Scotty Cameron, the area’s highest-ranked Southern boys 16 player (24th), is the Warriors’ new No. 1 player.
Porter-Gaud sophomore Brant Fenno is the area’s only other junior boy ranked in the top 100 nationally (84th in boys 14). Fenno also is rated 22nd in boys 14 in the South. Earl Navarro (Emma’s brother) is rated 25th in the South in boys 14.
Lara Schneider is rated fourth in Southern girls 12.
In final 2014 state junior division rankings, Porter-Gaud two-time Lowcountry player of the year Ann Martin Skelley leads the list of top 20 players with a No. 2 ranking in girls 16.
Girls 12 state rankings: Margaret Navarro (Emma’s sister), No. 5; Allie Gretkowski (6), Carri Hayes (10), Logan Summit Voeks (11) and Mcalindon Jahn (13).
Girls 14 (tentative): Lauren Quinn (4), Emma Smith (10), Lily Conant (12), Michaela Cuoco (13), Skat Bailey (14), Emily Elliott (15) and Kat Lyman (16).
Girls 16: Jenna Vroman (6), Camryn Deames (8) and Tyler Kirk (18).
Girls 18: Samantha Schuster (5).
Boys 12: Stanley Alan Waters (5), Luke Prendergast (6), Michell Deames (12), Zachary Dacuba (15), William Ethan Baly (18) and William Ross (20).
Boys 14: Fenno (4), Sam Kavarana (6), Coy Simon (7), Chad Nash (9), Lleyton Dacuba (15), Brendan Healey (18) and Manning Snyder (19).
Boys 16: Mark Militzer (5), Cameron (6), Jared Pratt (7), Kavarana (8), Nash (9) and Fenno (12).
Boys 18: Adam Elliget (4), Cameron (5), Jonathan Edwards (17) and Cameron Kirkwood (20).