Shining bright on and off the court: Chloe Kanelopoulos finishes stellar at the 6A state tournament

Chloe Kanelopoulos is no stranger to the 6A girls state tennis tournament but this year, she will be competing on a different level than she has in the past two years.

Kanelopoulos is the No. 1 singles player for the Yukon girls tennis team and she qualified for the 6A state tennis tournament with her 3-1 record and third-place finish in the regional tournament this past Monday.

“It’s exciting,” Kanelopoulos said. “The No. 1 singles division is the toughest one in girls tennis because the competition is really good. It’s great knowing all of the hard work has paid off.”

She is in her senior year for Yukon and as a sophomore and junior, Kanelopoulos made it to the state tournament as a doubles player for the Millerettes. As a sophomore, she went as a part of the No. 2 doubles team and as a junior she was a member of the No. 1 doubles pair.

Both years, Kanelopoulos made it to the second day of the state tournament. She said that will be her goal going into the state tournament this year.

“I’m going to play very relaxed and hopefully play my best tennis,” Kanelopoulos said. “My goal is to make it to the second day of the tournament, which I have to win one match on Friday to make it to Saturday and I’m confident I’ll be able to do that.”

The 6A girls tennis state tournament began on Friday at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center and will conclude today.

Kanelopoulos talked about the difference in mindset when it comes to playing doubles versus singles.

“It’s a different mentality and it’s something I have been dealing with all year,” Kanelopoulos said. “You can’t rely on your doubles partner when you are out there by yourself. It’s very rewarding and humbling at the same time. For me, I just try to focus on my game and play to my strengths. I try not to have a lot of interaction with my opponent.”

Kanelopoulos has a record of 20-16 this year as the No. 1 singles player for Yukon. She said the one area of her game she thinks is her best is her ability to move around the court.

“I would say court movement is the best area of my game,” Kanelopoulos said. “I go into a lot of matches against players who are better than me on paper but my ability to get to shots all over the court that a lot of other players couldn’t get to evens the playing field a lot of times. My forehand is another area of my game that is strong for me. I enjoy hitting the ball down the line for a winner.”

It has been several years since Kanelopoulos had her serve clocked to see how fast she can hit the ball but as a sophomore, she was serving at 75 mph, which is pretty fast for a high school sophomore.

Kanelopoulos started playing tennis when she was younger. Her family belongs to The Greens Country Club in NW Oklahoma City and that’s where she began playing. Tennis is big in her family and her older brother was her inspiration to start playing at a young age.

However, she decided to stop playing after a couple years on the court and began dancing. Kanelopoulos danced up until she was a freshman in high school at Yukon and then she decided to pick the racket back up and leave the dance floor and return to the tennis court.

She said when girls tennis coach Dick Villaflor came to Yukon, she and the rest of the team took off with his teaching.

“He knows so much about the sport,” Kanelopoulos said. “He taught us how to play the right way. He’s been great for us as a team and for us as a program. We are lucky to have him.”

When she is not hitting forehand winners down the line, Kanelopoulos can be found reading or spending time with her family in her limited free time.

“I’ve always loved reading,” Kanelopoulos said. “I like to read deep literature mostly but I also read the newspaper every now and then. My dad always tells me it’s good to read the newspaper because it’s good to know what is going on in the world.”

On top of being the No. 1 singles player for the girls tennis team, Kanelopoulos is the Senior Class Vice President, the Student Council Vice President, a member of the National Honors Society, has taken numerous Pre-AP and AP courses since her freshman year and has a weighted GPA of 4.65.

She received numerous small-college offers to play tennis at the next level but she decided to focus on her studies and attend the University of Oklahoma on a leadership scholarship next fall.

“I’m not sure if I want to study English or business yet,” Kanelopoulos said. “I’ll play some intramural tennis, which will be fun.”

Kanelopoulos said she had the opportunity to go to England and attend Wimbledon in the summer of 2012 and it was an amazing experience.

“We got to see Serena Williams and Andy Murray play matches,” Kanelopoulos said. “It was an experience I will never forget. Getting to watch the best tennis players in the world is pretty amazing.”

When asked who her favorite professional tennis player in the world is, she took a couple of minutes to decide between Serena Williams and Roger Federer, but she eventually answered with two words.

“Roger Federer,” Kanelopoulos said.

As her high school tennis career comes to an end today in the state tournament, there is no question that the future is bright for Chloe Kanelopoulos in whatever she decided to do down the road.

Kanelopoulos is not going to be alone in the state tournament as she is joined by the doubles teams for Yukon. No. 1 doubles players Lea Hildebrand and Kaylee Rayburn along with No. 2 doubles players Candace Courter and Sakura Roberts are competing in the 6A girls tennis state tournament.

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