Athlete of the Month: Ali Alpan

Selma Ulm, Contributing Writer

The Register Forum interviewed Ali Alpan, co-captain of the CRLS tennis team, as the Athlete of the Month for March 2022.

Register Forum: What’s a memorable moment from CRLS tennis?

Ali Alpan: [My] junior year, we played a double header against Wayland. Using my friend’s old, secondhand racquet (mine broke), I started a match against their #1 player. 30 minutes in, unable to enforce my playing style, I was getting destroyed. But, with a pep talk from Mr. Nicholson, I forced myself to play my opponent’s game, stretching the match longer, until I found a weakness.

RF: What does it mean to be a Cambridge athlete?

AA: Being involved in my community, putting myself aside for the team, having the opportunity to represent the … environment I love.

RF: How do you prepare yourself mentally and physically for games?

AA: I like to get on the court with no expectations, not thinking about the game until it starts. If you set unrealistic expectations that you don’t end up following through in the first seconds of the game, you start losing confidence in yourself. Physically, I try not to practice more than an hour the day before a game, in order not to feel sore. If I’m not at my best, I try to practice after a match rather than waiting for the next day, so that I end the day with motivation.

RF: What plans do you have for this season?

AA: I am so excited for this season, because I think we have an amazing team: great athletes and teammates. We have a bond that brings us motivation and drive to be the best. Even though tennis is an individual sport, the support of my coach and teammates makes me feel like I’m not alone on the court. I doubt other teams practiced as hard as we did in the offseason, playing outside in below freezing temperatures in the winter. With a rigorous training schedule, I think we’ll make playoffs, and could win our division.

RF: What are some tips you have for those who plan to try out for the tennis team in the future?

AA: What separates people in tennis is your mentality, knowing your weaknesses. Even if you are not the most athletically gifted, you can adopt a playing style that will allow you to enforce your will on the court, aside from athleticism. You should build up your mental toughness by practicing daily, getting used to playing in uncomfortable conditions, and never back down from a challenge of playing against a tougher opponent.

This piece also appears in our March 2022 edition.