Whether it’s rocketing a tennis serve at close to 90 miles per hour or splitting a fairway with a 250-yard drive, Livonia Franklin two-sport star Kendall Payne knows how to set the tone in her two favorite sports.
A tennis player since the age of 5 and a golfer for the past six-plus years, the 16-year-old senior knows a thing or two about swing mechanics.
An instant-impact athlete at Franklin, Payne has been the girls golf team’s No. 1 player since her freshman year and the Patriots’ tennis team’s No. 1 or 2 singles player each of her three springs on the court.
Her dual hobbies – both of which require precision and consistency – play off one another well, she said.
“Actually, the swings are pretty similar in golf and tennis,” Payne said. “Playing tennis as long as I have, I’ve built up a lot of arm strength and conditioning that help me hit the golf ball as far as I do.”
Payne’s athletic endeavors have been set in motion by her dad, Randy, who is a tennis instructor at theFranklin Athletic Club.
“My dad started getting me into golf when I was 10,” Payne said. “Actually, my coach now at Franklin (Jason) was the one who gave me my first lessons.
“I had a natural swing right away, but I didn’t start picking up on the little things you need to do to be a good player until my freshman year at Franklin.”
Competing in sports as much as she does – especially ones as demanding as golf and tennis – has taught Payne to control her emotions when things get a little rocky.
“I do get frustrated sometimes when I hit a bad shot,” she said, smiling. “When I do, I take a deep breath and move onto the next shot. I’ve learned that if you don’t move on, your next shot isn’t going to be any better than your last one.”
Payne’s tennis skills are so sharp that she gives lessons to young players at the FAC.
“It’s fun and they’re pretty receptive to what I tell them,” she said. “I’m not good enough yet to give golf lessons. I’m still working on getting my own swing to where I want it.
“Most of the time I’m able to out-drive the other players in my foursome, and I usually hit the ball pretty straight, but I’m still working on my short game.”
Payne realized her vast golf potential during several tournaments this past summer. Her pinnacle came during the Motor City Invitational hosted by Livonia’s Whispering Willows Golf Course, where she carded a sizzling 18-hole round of 81 and walked away with the first-place trophy in her age division.
“Everything was working for me that day,” she reflected. “I was getting the ball on the greens and making my putts. At one point I had seven pars in a row.”
The high school format is appealing to Payne because of its more-casual style of play.
“It’s competitive, but at the same time it’s nice and fun compared to tournament golf in the summer,” she said. “I like being able to talk to my teammates and being able to help each other.”
A stellar student with a 3.5 grade-point average, Payne admits she would love to play collegiate golf.
“If I can get an offer from a school that offers the field I want to get into, that would be fantastic,” she said. “But if I end up going somewhere just for academics, I’d like it to be Michigan State.”