One on One with Julienne Keong

by Lily Gordon | 1/26/15 12:05am

This week I sat down with women’s tennis player Julienne Keong ’16. Keong contributed a doubles win to Dartmouth’s victory over Brown University this weekend.

When did you first start playing tennis?JK: I first started playing tennis when I was about six or seven, but I only started playing competitively at the age of 10. Even then it was only a few tournaments a year.

What is your favorite part about the game?JK: ​Competing is really fun, especially playing on a team. There is nothing like the atmosphere in the tennis center when it is 3-3 and it comes down to the last singles match to be the decider.

What has been your favorite part about playing for Dartmouth?JK: Playing on a team with nine other wonderful women has been an honor and so much fun. Especially coming from juniors where you’re playing for yourself and by yourself, it is a great experience to represent Dartmouth and to compete alongside my teammates where you are playing for something that is bigger than yourself.

How has your winter season been so far?JK: We’ve had a great start to our winter season. Just coming off today’s match against Mississippi State [University], we’ve moved to 3-0. Compared to the past two years, we’ve had a great start to our winter season. We’ve played some tough teams but managed to come out on top which I think shows that we have gotten a lot better as a team and continue to improve physically and mentally.

How does this vary from fall/spring tennis?JK: In the fall, we mostly play individual tournaments, whereas in the winter we play dual matches, which is school vs. school, and it is a build up to our Ivy League season in the spring. In the winter, we try to play teams that are outside of our conference so that we can be exposed to other types of players and teams and gain more experience from it moving into Ivy season.

Can you tell me a little bit about your match this weekend?JK: We played Brown yesterday afternoon, and Mississippi State this morning. I think against Brown we got off to a good start by winning the doubles point. It was a little tough to feed off of Brown’s energy because they were a little quieter than most teams, but I think we managed to create our own energy and feed off of one another and the fans. But Mississippi State was a much more vocal team with a stronger presence on the court today. Even though they secured the doubles point, we showed our mental toughness and bounced back by winning four out of six of the singles matches. Even though Mississippi State was a little intimidating with their presence, I think everyone on the team did a great job of staying very focused and holding their ground.

What did your coach have to say after the match?JK: Our coaches said it was a great team win in that while not everyone played at their best today and won their matches, it is the cumulative effort that matters in the end where we managed to win four out of six singles matches to clinch the match as a whole team. People will remember that Dartmouth won the match, and not which individuals won or lost.

What, specifically, are you working on in the coming weeks?JK: For me, just working on closing out important points and staying relaxed throughout the match while maintaining focus so as to eliminate lapses in concentration where I lose a string of points in a row.

Is there any advice you would give your freshmen that you wish you had known in hindsight?JK: To have fun and enjoy being on the team because time flies very quickly, and to try to get involved with things other than tennis when possible.

Off the court, how do you like to spend your time at Dartmouth?JK: Because being on the team is a big time commitment, I’m normally trying to catch up on school work when I’m not on the court. Aside from that, a handful of us on the team participate in Big Green Readers where a group of student-athletes go to Mt. Lebanon Elementary School every Tuesday morning to help the kids improve on their reading skills. I also really like getting coffee with friends and just catching up with them especially when everyone is really busy, so it’s always nice to sit down and have a chat.

This interview has been edited and condensed.