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The straight and unwavering path towards becoming a pro

Ms. Shuko Aoyama

Because of her parents, who were fans of tennis, Ms. Aoyama has always held her racket and ball close to her heart. "When we go on family trips, we're always sure to take our tennis equipment along with us for the ride. Tennis was an activity that the whole family could enjoy." It was precisely for this reason that, when she seriously began tennis as a fourth year elementary student, she was already proficient at hitting the ball. However, "At first I wasn't all that great. I relied too much on brute strength to hit the ball. As a result, I often couldn't get a hold of it and suffered many losses." As she played her way through a number of matches, "I would wonder to myself how I could better apply myself. There was a lot of trial and error going on, especially in doubles."

"I wanted to play tennis in an environment where I could go up against strong opponents," said Ms. Aoyama, explaining why she entered Waseda. "I've gotten to the point where I can handle the practice routine, but at first I was barely able to keep up at all," she said brightly. Despite that, she became skilled enough to transcend college competitions and participate in international matches. This October, Ms. Aoyama competed in the Rakuten Open Tennis Championships alongside a number of professional players. There, she also faced off against Kimiko Date Krumm. "All the players there were very skilled, but that actually helped me to give my best." With a height of only 153.7 cm, Ms. Aoyama is of short build. However, she can run fast and is persistent when it comes to getting hold of the ball. As a result, she managed to place in the top four.

After graduating, she plans to be active as a professional player. "I haven't yet seen how far I can go." She went on to say that things from here on out are going to be different and that she needs to make sure she has a place where she can concentrate on future matches. She also added that there was another problem ahead, exclaiming, "Improving my English ability is going to be a challenge!" This is because that future matches will take place overseas as well as Japan. This, of course, includes the Grand Slam tournaments. "After the Championships are over, I'll be busy with my thesis," said Ms. Aoyama, with a smart expression suited to a fourth year college student, "I want to become a person who is humble, but also someone who can take care of herself." The path leading to becoming a professional athlete will almost certainly be strewn with hurdles. However, for a brief moment I felt the supple strength she would need to carry her through them all.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Shuko Aoyama

Born in 1987 in Osaka Prefecture. Graduated from the Third Senior High School of Nihon University and is currently a fourth year student of the School of Sport Sciences enrolled in Mr. Hiroaki Masaki's seminar. Is the captain of the girls tennis team. In the All Japan Student Tennis Ranking (as of the end of the 2009 intercollegiate) she ranked first in both the singles and doubles categories. Placed first in the doubles division of the 2008 All Japan Student Tennis Championships. Won the copper medal in her first appearance at the 25th Universiade Tournament in doubles. She has also contributed to Waseda's victories at the Nikke All Japan Tennis Championships for four years running. She often spends her days off relaxing at home.