By: Haley Hunt, Tenacity Intern and Special Correspondent

Kayla Clarke-Calderon is a 7th grade student enrolled at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School. Since joining Tenacity, in her own words, she “has changed so much.” Now in her second year of the program, Kayla cites both her teammates and the staff as keys to her newfound maturity. Whether in practice, or in the classroom, her teammates’ presence serves as a safety net; they surround her with support so that she is not afraid to fail, and they encourage her to push her limits to help her achieve her goals.

“Tenacity has helped me to reach the next level,” she said, referring not only to her training in tennis, but also to her academic success. Just last week, she shattered another one of her goals by hitting a volley during practice. And, she keeps a journal to help her to continue building upon the skills previously gained in the daily literacy sessions. Her inspiration (on and off the tennis court) comes from her favorite player: world #1 Serena Williams.

“I play not only for my team, but also for my family, the staff, the people that have helped me along the way. And, most importantly, I play for myself. Because I love what I am doing,” Kayla said, after revealing fitness as her favorite part of practice. Kayla’s poise, team first mentality, and upbeat attitude are clear evidence of her hard work and grit. A spot at next week’s Crane Cup would serve as a well-earned reinforcement of Kayla’s dedication both to tennis, and to Tenacity.