At an early age... Claudia Catar practices her game as a child. The practices paid off for her.
At an early age… Claudia Catar practices her game as a child. The practices paid off for her.
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Claudia Catar follows her dad’s tennis footsteps, wins Gold Ball award

Serving up success

by Gioia Calzetta, reporter 

Ranked as an Alabama top 10 high school female tennis player for five straight years, Fairhope senior Claudia Catar boasts dozens of accolades in United States Tennis Association [USTA]  tournaments as an 18-year-old. 

Catar dedicated years of her younger childhood practicing tennis to play at the level she does now. 

“I started playing tennis when I was four years old. I was doing dance and gymnastics at the time and had enough with the flips,” Catar said. “I walked up to my mom one day and said ‘I wanna play my daddy’s tennis’ and the rest is history.” 

Catar advanced at a rapid pace as a child. In just two years, she grew from learning how to hold the racket to winning her first tournament.

 “I played my first tournament at 6 years old and won. I remember this one specific moment very well when I knew I’d do whatever I had to to become the best,” Catar said. 

At 7 years old, Catar lost a difficult match in the finals of a tournament. “After that, I ran off the court to my dad. Not because I was sad, but because I wanted him to ‘show me how to win.’” 

The loss proving to be a pivotal moment, “Ever since then, I have been competing in tournaments all over the US.” 

Since then, Catar has been determined to be the best that she can be. Throughout the years she’s dedicated to the sport, tennis has taught her important lessons. 

“Tennis, in a non-cliche way, is more than a sport. It has taught me many life lessons that are the key to success. Once you step onto that court, it is just you out there. All alone with nothing but your racket and all the information you have retained from your lessons,” Catar said.  “It’s brutal, both physically and mentally. Tennis requires a strong mindset and the diligence to never give up.”

Being a student athlete has taught her how to stay organized and balance the time on the court and in the classroom. 

“Going to practices straight from school and tournaments on the weekends has forced me to learn how to balance my workload, create a strong work-ethic and learn time-management skills.” 

Without tennis, Claudia Catar wouldn’t be the person she is today.

 “Whether it be opponents or people I meet at the tournament desk, I am forever grateful for the connections and friendships that tennis has provided me,” Catar said.  “Some of my greatest friendships are with girls from different states. Tennis has shaped me into the person I am today.” 

Playing doubles with her father Thomas, the Catar duo’s most recent victory won her the title of No. 1 in the United States Father/Daughter National Championship, an achievement called the “Gold Ball.” Not new to this tremendous accomplishment, Claudia and Thomas’s won their first Gold Ball in Massachusetts earlier this year. 

Although Claudia won other tournaments across the United States, the Gold Ball awards have a special meaning to her because she won them with her father. 

“What made it even more special was that our win put us as the #1 Father-Daughter team in the nation,” Claudia said. “When we won the last point, it felt fake. We had just won another Gold Ball. The feeling I felt was one like no other.”

Claudia said she and Thomas were overjoyed with happiness both times they won the Gold Ball. 

“It’s not easy winning a gold ball. Each tournament, we are playing the best in the country.”

Claudia and Thomas developed a special routine to prepare them for upcoming tournaments as partners.

 “Me and my dad have specific things we like to do before our tournaments. Along with doubles drilling, we always set up practice matches against college players and other teaching pros,” Claudia said. 

Different courts, such as grass or turf, create different circumstances.

“For grass courts, we set up a piece of fake turf on the court and aim on it. When the ball lands on the fake turf, it bounces very similarly to what it would on a real grass court,” Claudia said.

Success as a tennis player has garnered Claudia various scholarships to play at the collegiate level. However, she remains undecided on whether she will play for a college. 

“The thing I love most about tennis is the ability to play at any age and in any place. Along with that, it teaches you life lessons and skills that prepare you for the real world and any obstacle that comes your way,” Claudia said. “What most people don’t know is that I am also a talented artist and have a passion for traveling. I have been to over eight countries and am the president of our art club. I seek to continue both in my plans. What I do know for certain is that tennis will always remain in my future.”  

Claudia has dedicated countless hours to her sport, determined to perfect every aspect of it. Her awards exemplify hard work and perseverance. Even if Claudia Catar chooses not to play in college, one thing is certain: tennis is a fundamental part of her life she’s extremely grateful for.

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