SPORTS: Varsity tennis seniors: Skylar Yazum, Nina Vozenilek, and Ahona Parua


Emily Mendez

Seniors Nina Vozenilek and Ahona Parua

Daniella Torres, Staff Writer

How long have you been playing tennis and what position do you play?

Skylar Yazum: “I started playing tennis my freshman year. I did a summer camp with Nina. [And] I play first doubles.”

Nina Vozenilek: “Me and Skylar joined together. We were like, ‘Oh this will be fun in high school, like a new sport,’ so we did the summer camp. [So] I’ve been playing since freshman year. Third singles is what I play.”

Ahona Parua: “I also started playing freshman year and then I did a camp as a joke, but then I liked it. I play second singles now.”


What encouraged you to join?

Yazum: “For me, I’d say we did badminton in middle school and I thought that was fun but I thought tennis was similar so I tried it out – it’s not similar but I thought it was so I wanted to try it out. [And] I went to the camp and I met Ahona and a whole bunch of people that I didn’t know and they were all fun and so I just decided to keep playing and I’ve done it ever since.”

Vozenilek: “I was like, ‘Oh it’s high school and I want to do sports to make it fun, let me try tennis.’ I did a camp when I was 8 maybe once and I was like, ‘it’s pretty cool’ so then I just wanted to try it out again. It was really fun, all the girls were super nice and I stayed with it.”

Parua: “I was with my friends [redacted names] and they were like ‘Oh there’s this tennis camp, wouldn’t that be so funny,’ and the coach’s son was like, ‘I’ll give you guys rackets if you do it,’ and we were like, ‘Okay’ and yeah. That’s how we did it, and then I actually liked it and I got my first racket the day after the camp.”


Do you train outside of everyday practice? How many hours?

Yazum: “I don’t do hardcore training [either]. I spend most of my summers playing with my dad. We try to go like once a week, at least.”

Vozenilek: “I do that too [summer practice], not like hardcore training really, but just get out with friends.”

Parua: “I hit for fun over the summer, just something to do.”


What is your favorite part of being on the school tennis team?

Yazum: “The people. We’re all close with each other, we can joke around and we kind of just play around and have fun every day. I think it’s really fun.”

Vozenilek: “The people and the atmosphere, it’s all just super fun and everyone is super nice, and it’s a good time.” 

Parua: “It doesn’t really feel like an official practice, more like a hang out after school.”


What is your favorite memory with your team? 

Yazum: “We went to Mod Pizza and then we went to Aldi. We would always take random trips.”

Vozenilek: “After a tournament we all were tired and had fun, but we wanted to do something fun together to make it memorable and then we all just went to Aldi and chipped in and bought snacks for the ride home because it was a far drive. The tournament days and after, it’s fun to bond.”


Do you have any pregame traditions or superstitions?

Vozenilek: “We have one person, before every game, give a team pep talk; that’s our tradition. Then just the normal Bengal chant.”

Parua: “I don’t really have my own thing. I just have my visor that I won’t switch out even though it’s getting gross.”


What are you most proud of either this season or previous seasons?

Yazum: “We were kind of rigged out because of Covid, but we all made varsity our sophomore year so I thought that was a big accomplishment. Especially because that summer I put a lot of work into getting better. And I’m first doubles now! So it’s kind of just nice to see how far we’ve all come as players.”

Vozenilek: “I’d say the same thing, being on varsity for three years, especially since we really never played this sport before freshman year so we just worked hard and made our way up.”


How has tennis impacted your life?

Yazum: “It’s my personality. Tennis merch, everything’s tennis. I used to do competitive cheerleading for years and I just hated it when I came to high school, but I loved tennis so much that I just stuck with that one.”

Vozenilek: “I feel like it’s really fun, it’s giving me something to do, a new hobby. I realized I hated the old sport I played; it helped me find my own interest, which sounds deep but it’s kind of true.”

Parua: “I just made a lot of friends and I feel like I started talking more. It just helps you talk to more people and be yourself more.”


Who is your biggest inspiration?

Yazum: “Ahona. I don’t know, [to Ahona] you’re just so good.”

Vozenilek: “[On Coach Sue] She’s super positive and super nice to literally everyone.”

Parua: “Coach Sue. She’s nice and funny. She’s like insanely good [at tennis] and she somehow always makes me laugh even though she’s not funny, but she’s funny. Coach Dom, we’ve known him since freshman year, also moved up with us. He was the JV coach then he became the varsity coach.”


Is there anything you would like to say to anyone thinking about joining tennis?

Yazum: “I’d say just do it because you kind of make bonds with people that you wouldn’t have. Even with JV, I feel like we’re all like a family. We all just have that kind of bond with each other that I feel like you don’t necessarily get in other sports. It’s not necessarily competitive where you’re competing against your teammates, but you’re supporting [each other] and growing with them.” 

Vozenilek: “Just join. It’s super fun, and you meet new people- a ton of new people. I’ve never had a class with Ahona, but we’ve been friends since freshman year. We didn’t have any classes [together] until this year, but we’ve stayed friends. And the coaches and all the people are super nice.”

Parua: “I’d say just do it because you don’t really lose anything, you could literally quit. But it’s just fun and it’s not as big of a commitment as other sports, I’d say.”


Is there anything else you would like to add?

Vozenilek: “Tennis is just fun, do it. Even if you have no experience, Coach Sue is the best and she’ll teach you. She’s a great coach for JV to help you learn.”