By Molly Edwards
DURHAM, N.C.--Rachel Kahan, a rising sophomore and one of Duke's latest tennis stars, was among the few players selected to attend this year's Player Development Camp held by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in Florida. Though a challenging week of training and practice, Kahan was all smiles when describing her experience.
"It was intense, but really enjoyable," said Kahan when speaking of her time spent at the USTA training facility in Boca Raton. "I went in wanting good hitting and training, and I definitely got it."
Kahan, the lone Blue Devil at the camp, was one of seven players who partook in the week-long training program June 29 through July 1. She cited the tips from the coaches and watching other players as two entities she enjoyed.
"We gained a lot of knowledge just by talking with the coaches, and by watching each other," she said. "You see different games and train really hard. It was good to play at that high level of intensity for a solid week."
What Kahan enjoyed most, however, was having a daily goal. "As a group we worked a lot on intensity and intention. Instead of just going through the motions, we had a purpose for every practice. Even if we only trained for a few hours, we got something out of it." Kahan's days in Florida consisted of three to four hour practices plus an hour of training, all while surviving the summer heat.
There was, however, no complaint in her testimony. "I love (tennis,) it's my passion. It's not really something I think about, I just kind of do it," said Kahan. But what's more admirable? She wanted to improve her game not just for herself, but for her team.
"Duke has been my first team experience; I did not play high-school tennis," said Kahan when asked what sparks her team-oriented spirit. "The team is my motivation. It's easy to say, 'I'm going to do this for my team. I'm going to train hard for my team.'"
The Connecticut-bred sophomore was invited to Florida after having an outstanding freshman season, which included being named ACC Rookie of the Year and the ITA Carolina Regional Rookie of the Year for 2010-11. Kahan finished her freshman campaign with an overall record of 31-1 and went undefeated in dual match play 28-0. She will also carry a 30-match winning streak into the 2011-12 season.
When asked of any personal goals she has for the upcoming season, Kahan expressed a sincere desire to make NCAA's as both an individual and team. She does not want to predict too much, though.
"As a competitive person, I would like to play a higher spot; as a teammate, I want to play where ever I can help most. That is key. I just try to go out and play hard every day and see where it takes me. I want to help the team as much as I can."
Kahan said the team's ultimate goal is to win a championship, and the only way to do that is through teamwork. "If everyone is worried about herself as an individual, it's just not going to work."
With a player as talented and driven as Kahan, a championship may very well be waiting in the team's future.