Youth sports: Robin Wise imparting wisdom on Utah's junior tennis players
Ever since she was 3 years old, Robin Wise was being prepped for a tennis career by her father. That much exposure that early either drives a person away from a sport or drives it deep into their heart.
So, which was it for Wise?
During her freshman year at Manti High School, she was two weeks away from the state high school tennis championships when her legs were run over by a bus.
Wise worked hard to get back into playing condition. She didn't "necessarily have to win," but she did have to compete.
As photographers circled around her taking pictures of her legs, Wise remained focused.
She took second place.
That answers the question.
Wise says her dad would always tell her, "You can achieve anything you want if you work hard at it." Now, as Wise celebrates her 10th year as the Utah Tennis Association Tournament and Junior Competition coordinator, in which she coordinates 11 tournaments a year and oversees 72, it's a message she tries to pass on, to motivate players she said are the best in Utah.
This weekend, Wise will host the Zone Team Championships from Thursday through Monday at the Liberty Park Tennis Park and Salt Lake Swim and Tennis Club. There will be 144 players girls and boys competing team tournament-style in singles and doubles matches.
"All of these players are worthy of college scholarships," said Wise. "They are amazing athletes."
Longtime co-worker Ken Harris said Wise is amazing role model to young athletes who are at an important juncture of their lives.
Since most of the players are 16 years old, college coaches cannot talk to them yet. However, they will be watching and evaluating players they will go after later.
"They are at the age where they are looking to continue their tennis career in college," said Harris, a native of Salt Lake City. "It's very important for them to put their best foot forward and make an impression."
The 76-year-old Harris, who has been working tournaments with Wise for 10 years and will serve as head referee this weekend, says Wise is exactly the right person to help the athletes reach their goals.
"She is a great person, very organized and very enthusiastic," said Harris. "One of the reasons, I continue to do this is because of Robin."
Wise is a native of Ephraim, a small town in central Utah.
While her father was her first tennis coach, Wise spent years under the tutelage of Wilbur Braithwaite, who hosted summer lessons for kids in the area.
She started working with him at 8 years old, and continued to train with him in high school, where Braithwaite was the tennis coach for more than 50 years. All four of her siblings went on to play at Manti High, and some played in college, including her at hometown Snow College. So she can identify with these young athletes' journeys and their need for a mentor. Even though Wise is not technically a coach, she said she feels like one. She said she has the "power to guide them to their ultimate goal."
"I do everything I can to make them the best athlete they can be," Wise said.
USTA 16 Zone Team Championships
P Where • At Liberty Park and Salt Lake City Swim and Tennis Club
When • Thursday through Monday; play begins daily at 8 a.m.
Admission • Free