Champ's path taking a new turn - The Explorer: Sports

Champ's path taking a new turn

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Posted: Monday, May 31, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:18 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Senior Tanya Hetlinger of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy defeated Stepheny Vos of Tombstone to capture the 2A/3A state singles title, 6-4, 6-0, last month in Phoenix.

"I had bronchitis, so I was a little worried," Hetlinger said. "I was nervous because we didn't know the other players."

Hetlinger plays USTA tennis, and knows many top-ranked area players.

"It's really competitive. You play all year around. You're playing versus people who play every day. I've been going to Ron Smith Tennis Academy since I was 10."

There was no familiarity problem for Hetlinger in her semi-final win. She defeated freshman teammate Allie Scott, 6-4, 6-3. Scott went on to finish third overall. The Pusch Ridge girls team also won the team title for the third time in four years, according to Hetlinger.

Hetlinger's path has not been easy, but she has found success on the court and in the classroom.

Tanya's mother is from Taiwan, where Tanya was born, while her father is American. He owns a business in China.

"He's made a lot of sacrifices for me and my sister," she said. "He's paid for my tennis and my schooling."

Hetlinger hasn't seen her father since her freshman year, and hasn't talked to her mother since 2000.

There have been three constants in Tanya's life: the presence of her grandmother, Marcia Hetlinger; tennis, and four high-achieving rival students she's taken classes with since the sixth grade.

"I've lived with my grandmother since I was five," Hetlinger said. "She broke her back in 2006, and she's been in a lot of pain since then."

Hetlinger "can't remember not playing tennis. I really like the individual aspect. You get to meet friends."

Erin Bleyl, Ryan Polston, Kelsey Andres and Erica Andres have been in many of the same advanced classes as Tanya since the sixth grade.

Polston, also on the Lions tennis team, is going to West Point. He was the Pusch Ridge senior class president. Kelsey Andres was the valedictorian, and was a tennis teammate.

"I was number five (out of the five) in grades," Hetlinger joked. That said, she graduated from Pusch Ridge with a 4.38 grade point average.

Hetlinger "won't get much of a summer," continuing her frantic pace toward attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. "The academy expects everyone to be at the top academically," Hetlinger said.

"Her grades help the whole package," said Lonnie Tvrdy, assistant principal and athletic director at Pusch Ridge.

She certainly has the family background for her induction into the Academy.

"Most of my family has served in the Navy or the Marines. I grew up with a strong respect for the military," she said.

"My grandmother was an English teacher. The discipline part of my family has come through."

Tanya's four years at Pusch Ridge have served her well too, especially considering she almost left to transfer to Catalina Foothills, which is closer to home.

"All the teachers are really caring (at Pusch Ridge). All of them are willing to help."

"Mrs. Abrams has helped me a lot, and to help me to get into the Academy. Mrs. Bleyl (also swim coach), too. I'm really glad I stuck it out with this school."

Going from the West Coast to the East Coast will be quite a change for Hetlinger. "I'll miss Tucson and the weather. It was really humid in Taiwan. I like the heat."

She'll enjoy the heat for another month.

"I leave for the Academy on June 29th," she said. "The induction time is July 1st."

Even as the school year was drawing to a close, and state finals were over, Hetlinger was still playing tennis in the afternoons. She'll continue playing tennis on the Academy team.

What's she doing over the next few weeks?

"I'll try to play on afternoons. Coach on weekends.

"I'll try to spend as much time as I have left with my grandmother."

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Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

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Cross Country (@4:30)

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Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

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Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

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CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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