Summers enjoying tennis now while planning for future


Justin Brown

Junior Grace Summers recently completed one of the best seasons in Eastern women’s tennis going 20-1.

Parker Valentine, Women's Tennis Reporter

Junior Grace Summers was 8 years old when she started playing tennis.

Two years later at a tournament in her hometown of Memphis, Tenn., she realized her passion for the game.

“The true love came at 10 in my first match at a local tournament in Memphis,” she said.

She also earned her first ever competitive win in that tournament.

Summers played at St. Benedict High School in Tennessee. She made the varsity team her freshman year, earning the No. 1 spot in both singles and doubles play. She kept that spot through all four years of her high school career including winning a state championship her senior year in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. Summers also finished her senior season going undefeated.

In her third year at Eastern and looking back, Summers said she made the right decision.

“I love it here,” she said. “I came to the campus on an official visit and all the girls on the team were very nice to me, as were the coaches. This school also had the major (exercise science) I wanted too so that was also a good reason.”

Summers is coming off one of the most successful seasons in Eastern history.

Coach Emily Wang absolutely loves her both as a player and person.

“Summers is a kind, fun teammate. She does a lot for her friends and teammates and everybody loves her for it,” Wang said. “Summers has a good sense of humor and brings that to the court during her own matches and during practice and uses it to keep people positive. She is an excellent team leader and sets a great example for everyone on the team when it comes time to compete and fight during matches.”

Wang said her favorite trait of Summers is that she is not afraid to be herself and is comfortable in her own skin.

“When we are down she lifts us up, I love her hugs too,” freshman Emily Pugachesvky said.

When it comes to schoolwork, Summers is just as focused and driven as she is on the tennis court. Summers finished with a near perfect 20-1 record last year and matched that with a 4.0 GPA in the classroom.

Summers would like to be a coach at some point after college, both privately as well as helping to run clinics.

Coaching will not be the only thing she does after graduation.

“While I am coaching, I want to attend helicopter school,” Summers said. “My long term goal is to either be a medevac or search and rescue helicopter pilot. I want a career where I can help people.”

Summers said the origianally wanted to be a tennis coach but after the past few summers of coaching she decided she wanted to do more with her time.

She recently discovered her love of flying.

“My dad took me to an airport to do a discovery flight in a Cessna 150 a few summers ago and I absolutely loved it,” she said. “So that is when I really started looking into becoming a pilot. I did not want to just fly people from one place to another, rather I wanted there to be some real meaning behind the flight. After doing a lot of research, I decided that either being a Medevac or Search and Rescue helicopter pilot would be the best job for me.”

Summers has also been able to talk to helicopter pilots already in the field and said they have been able to help her learn and understand more about her future goals.

So not only does Summers plan to be helping the next generation hone their skills on the tennis court after college, she also hopes to help in saving lives.

Parker Valentine can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]