WILLIAMSTON – Williamston junior Sara Daavettila was born into the tennis world.
Her mother, a Northville native, played tennis for four years while at Western Michigan University. The sport has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember.
“I grew up playing — ever since I could hold a racket,” said Daavettila, who is the oldest of her mother’s six children. “Growing up, I was like 4 years old hitting in the driveway. There was always something I was doing.”
Daavettila has blossomed into one of the nation’s top prep tennis players and is currently seeking her second consecutive Division 3 regional and state championships in No. 1 singles. She will try to capture back-to-back regional titles on Thursday at Haslett High School.
“I feel like there is less pressure this year,” the reigning State Journal girls tennis player of the year said. “I know most of the girls that are playing in states, so I think I’m a little bit more confident than last year.”
The junior has a career record of 34-0 as a Hornet. Daavettila, who was home-schooled until her sophomore year, hasn’t dropped a single set in two seasons, and she hasn’t lost a game this year. She’s also helped Williamston reach No. 8 in the Division 3 state rankings.
Over the years, Daavettila has earned national recognition by dishing out strong performances in various United States Tennis Association tournaments.
She is currently ranked No. 2 in the Midwest and No. 27 nationally in the 18-year-old division by the USTA (must be 18 years old or younger to qualify for the division). TennisRecruiting.net has her ranked as the sixth best junior in the country.
“When you sit back and think about (my accomplishments), it comes back to hard work. You have to put the hours in if you want good results,” Daavettila said. “I have so many people that have helped me get here, and I’m so thankful for them.”
Daavettila verbally committed to the University of North Carolina in November. The Tar Heels, who are currently competing in the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship tournament, are the No. 2 ranked team in the country.
Several other top-tier programs showed interest — including UCLA and Stanford — but Daavettila was sold on UNC after her official visit.
“I went to visit Michigan, Ohio State and Wake Forest … But when I went to visit North Carolina I just knew that’s where I was going — based on location, level of academics and tennis,” Daavettila said. “I wanted to get out of Big Ten (country) for four years — change it up.”