2018 ALL-AREA GIRLS' TENNIS: Boss Ross: RMA tennis' top singles player guides team to state title
By PATRICK MASON
Saturday, December 29, 2018
Before the most important match of the season, the Rocky Mount Academy girls’ tennis team stepped off the bus and began sizing up the players from Trinity Academy.
Haven Ross, the Eagles No. 1 singles player and the Telegram’s Girls’ Tennis Player of the Year, remembers the queasy feeling she had in that moment.
“I was insanely nervous because the stakes were so high and I didn’t know how to handle it if we didn’t win,” Ross said. “Just showing up and the two teams were looking at each other like ‘Who am I about to play? Who’s their No. 1?’ Here we are just making all of these random guesses.”
Ross and the Eagles claimed a 6-2 victory and the school’s first state championship in the NCISAA’s 2-A classification. RMA won a 1-A title in 2000.
RMA finished the season 14-1, and won three straight matches in the postseason after securing a first-round bye. And did so behind its top player, Ross, who had a strong season after adding a new serve to her game.
Ross has played on the Eagles varsity teams since 7th grade. She earned the No. 4 singles spot that season, before moving up to third her eighth grade year. Ross played at No. 2 singles the next two seasons before owning the No. 1 slot the past two years.
And as the top player, Ross dealt with pressures that came along with facing the opposing team’s top player, as well as the expectations of being competitive each time out.
“I feel a lot of pressure just to be a leader,” Ross said. “I feel bad taking a sick day or not showing up. And at matches I just feel like they expect me to win, and that can be a lot. Especially when sometimes I’ll face girls that as soon as they check out of school they’re training year round.”
That led her to train more this summer in anticipation of her senior season. She added a kick-serve to her game that made her second offering more competitive, and the results followed. She ran off a 7-3 singles record, and a 6-3 mark in doubles.
She was the conference’s top player, and claimed a number of top accolades.
In a recent interview, Ross discusses her love for writing, her desire to work in Antarctica, and much more as part of our All-Area series.
If sports didn’t exist, what would you be doing instead?
I love movies so I watch a lot of movies. I read books. I like writing and I actually write for the school newspaper.
What do you like writing about?
Well I started last year and have done it in 11th and 12th grade and I really enjoy it. I like interviewing people and rating things. I can do top 10 things, and I’ll do movie reviews.
Is that something you want to pursue?
I don’t know because I have a lot of different interests. Right now I’m excited about going into a dentistry focus in college, but I also like writing.
How did you get into tennis?
I started playing when I was about 5. My mom started playing tennis when we moved here, and when my mom played my sister and I played. One thing I always wanted to do was to be better than my sister so that pushed me.
Do you want to play tennis in college?
I don’t want to play in college because I want to go to a big college. I might do club or play intramurals. But tennis, you can play for your whole life.
If you were stranded on an island, what three things do you wish you had brought with?
Probably a good book, my best friend and matches.
Which teammate inspires you?
Shelton Honey. She just has the cutest attitude ever, and she was one of the people that wanted that state title so badly. She can just say one little remark that will have the entire team laughing. I go to church with her too, so I know her pretty well. I think she’s nice to everyone.
What’s your favorite food?
Probably sandwiches. I love Which Wich, but I just get the same thing on every sandwich: Turkey, spinach and provolone.
What movie can you watch over and over?
It depends what kind of movie I’m in the mood for, but I love Mamma Mia! and The Shawshank Redemption, which are just two completely different movies.
Do you have any nicknames?
If you could have a dream job, what would it be?
I would study penguins in Antarctica. I could live in an igloo and just hang out with penguins all day.
Name a song on your playlist that not many people would know you listen to?
Somebody To Love by Queen. I would get in my car and sing it with my little sister, and I think people see me roll up to school and I’m just singing in my car and they’ll look at me. I’ve accidentally serenaded so many people.
Caroline Broderick, Jr., Rocky Mount High
Katherine Moss, Sr., Rocky Mount High
Carson Browder, Jr., Rocky Mount High
M.K. Broderick, Sr., Rocky Mount High
Stacie Winner, Sr., Southern Nash
Chloe Harrington, Fr., Northern Nash