State Press tennis beat reporter Evan Webeck sat down with ASU tennis junior Leighann Sahagun to talk about her role as a team leader and her transition from life in New York to life at ASU.
The State Press: You’re originally from New York. How did you wind up at ASU?
Leighann Sahagun: I wanted to go far away. I told my parents that when I was a freshman in high school. I was like, “You only have four years left of me ’cause I’m leaving.” They didn’t really take it seriously. They were like, “No, you’re only 13; you don’t know what you’re talking about.” And then all my school offers were away (from home). Then we were just like, “Man, this is really happening.”
SP: What other schools recruited you after having an accomplished high school career?
LS: I took my official visits to (ASU), Florida State, Kentucky and West Virginia. I narrowed it down to here and Florida State, and then I was kind of going back and forth on who to choose.
SP: How did you make that decision?
LS: It was more of a gut feeling. I did write out a list of the pros and cons of both schools, and I did enjoy both visits a lot, so it made it tough. There was just something that happened with the coaches (at Florida State), and I was just like, “If they’re going to lie to me now, how are they going to be when I get to the school?” (ASU coach) Sheila (McInerney) didn’t change anything from the recruiting to when I got here, so I decided to come here.
SP: Was it difficult to transition to Arizona life after living in New York?
LS: It was very tough to transition to the heat. Those first couple weeks, I was just like, “Oh my god!” I wanted to shave my hair, I wanted to wear like nothing around, which I know would not be appropriate. It started getting easier. People are a lot nicer here. The weirdest thing was, I was sneezing non-stop, because I was coming from pollution to like nothing here, so my nose is just so clear, and I’m sneezing left and right.
SP: You are always one of the most vocal players in practice, is that something you picked up in New York, or just something you do as a leader?
LS: I would definitely say it’s a New York kind of thing. Even freshman year, I was cheering for everybody. On my recruiting trip, they played a match, and I was on the fence, screaming for everybody. It’s just more so that I’m a vocal kind of person. If nobody’s going to do it, I’m going to.
SP: In your first two years here, you’ve had more success in doubles than singles. What do you attribute that to?
LS: I have no idea. But I realize that when I play doubles, I don’t really put pressure on my partner because it’s already a pressured environment, so why put more pressure on my partner? It’s just like, all right, calm down, relax. When I would play with Des(irae Krawczyk), and she’d get mad, I’d be like, “Hey, hey. Take a second.” Or I’d say something to make her laugh. I try not to be so intense. When I’m playing, it’s still intense; I just don’t want to make an awkward chemistry.
SP: How does that compare to your attitude in singles?
LS: Singles has been up-and-down for me. I pulled my quad around mid-season last year and that was really a turning point in my season, because I started losing a little bit more. In matches I was usually able to win, I would lose really closely, but before that, and even during that stretch, for some strange reason, I would be so calm. Freshman year, I’d be up like 5-0 and miss a point and chuck the racquet. I got in trouble so much freshman year. There were like five matches in a row when I was getting called into (the coaches) office.
SP: You were playing really well before you pulled your quad. Do you think you can get back to that level this season?
LS: I think so. I hope so. But I have to really know it, mentally. I can say that I can go pound for pound with everybody in this country. But mentally, I just realize that I panic in between some points, and I just need to take my time.
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