In her first-ever pageant, Kaitlyn Hyun of Oakton was recently crowned Miss Teen of Virginia, and in a few weeks, she’ll compete for the title of Miss Teen of America. Kaitlyn is an avid tennis player, competing in USTA Junior Team Tennis, as well as on the Oakton High School varsity team. She talked with USTA Mid-Atlantic about tennis, pageants and more.
How long have you been playing tennis? How did you first get started?
I’ve been playing tennis since I was ten years old. I started because both of my parents were playing at the time, and they wanted our family to be able to play together. I started taking lessons and even though I was busy with piano, flute, tae-kwon-do, art, and gymnastics, I realized that I wanted to keep pursuing tennis because it was so different from sports I had experience in.
What aspects of tennis draw you to keep playing?
I love tennis because it’s a game with so much depth. There’s the mental aspect as well as the physical aspect. Because it’s primarily a solo sport, mental toughness is really important. It’s a really multi-faceted game, and it pushes me to strive to be the best that I can be. I also like that it’s a sport that people of all ages can play. I’ve learned so much leadership and service from tennis, as well as how to connect different subjects. I’ve connected tennis to physics concepts (topspin and rotational dynamics) and creative writing. I was also able to connect it to biology and health (physical activity).
How has playing tennis benefited your personal life off-the-court?
I have gained so many opportunities because of tennis. Because I was fortunate enough to have so many people support me throughout my tennis career, I have been able to find ways to give back to the community. I coach tennis with Chantilly International Tennis and I coached in California this summer with SportQuest, a Christian sports program.
I also held a tennis racket drive for military families in my sophomore year and collected over thirty rackets. I donated them at an Andrews Airforce Base event with the Blue Sky Foundation, and I still go annually to coach there.
I’ve also had so much fun on my school’s varsity team. I played #3 singles and #2 doubles last year. I’ve been so fortunate to be part of such an awesome team that has made it to states every year I’ve been on the team. We even won the State Championship in 2015. In addition, I am on an 18 & under Advanced USTA JTT team, which last year, won the Northern Virginia Region Championships, got 2nd place at States, and 3rd place at Sectionals.
What skills do you think are transferable between tennis and competing in pageants?
Mental toughness, confidence and work ethic are definitely skills that are transferable between tennis and my experience with Miss Teen of America. Confidence and hard work are skills important in almost every aspect of life. When I competed in the pageant, I think that I was more calm and focused because I was able to draw on my experiences in high intensity tennis situations.
Which is more nerve-wracking: Match point during a tennis match or waiting to hear the winner’s name called during a pageant?
Because I’ve only participated in this one pageant, but I play tennis regularly, waiting to hear the winner’s name is definitely more nerve-racking. Even though I have been in high-pressure matches (I’ve played multiple matches which would determine whether or not my school team would advance to next level, regional or state), I was more confident because I had more experience. Also in USTA JTT, there is so much support from your fellow teammates, but in a pageant while you’re on the stage with blinding lights in your eyes, it feels like you are alone.
What are your tennis plans for the future? How long do you hope to keep playing?
I hope to play club tennis in college and continue playing into adulthood. I know that there are so many great programs for adults, and I hope to be able to participate in them. My whole family plays doubles together sometimes, and I hope to continue that tradition for a long time.
What does Mid-Atlantic tennis mean to you?
I’ve done many years of USTA Junior Team Tennis, and it’s a great program. I’ve built so many relationships and have gotten to play a lot of matches. I’ve been able to grow as a tennis player. There are so many different levels of Mid-Atlantic tennis, and I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of this program.
On November 12, Kaitlyn will be joining USTA Mid-Atlantic at the 2016 Annual Conference and Awards. To experience the FUNergy of Mid-Atlantic tennis and register for the conference, click here.
Chris Lewitzke is the social media & engagement coordinator at USTA Mid-Atlantic. A Northern Illinois native, he’ll be celebrating the Cubs World Series victory for a very long time.