By Gary Curreri
When it comes to competition, Lighthouse Point’s Simone Babb is right at home on the tennis court. The 18-year-old North Broward Prep High School senior has played tennis for 10 years and has aspirations of someday playing college tennis.
“I like the competition and playing in matches and tournaments,” Babb said. “I won a couple of matches in a Level 5 state designated tournament near Orlando and that was really fun because it was near Universal, and I beat some top players in the state.”
Playing for the Eagles, Babb has also had success in the FHSAA District tournaments in her previous three years.
“My doubles partner and I got to the district finals and I also reached the district semifinals a couple of times as a singles competitor,” Babb said. “This year, I would love to make it to state.”
Babb fell to Margate’s Samantha Fine, 6-4; 6-3 in the round of 16 in the Girls’ 18 Singles at the recent Deer Creek Holiday Classic Level 6 at the Deer Creek Tennis Resort in Deerfield Beach. A total of 106 players took part in the tournament that featured age divisions from 12s to 18s.
“The sport is super important to me because it teaches you how to compete in athletics and it keeps your brain stimulated,” Babb said. “The competition is what makes it fun.”
The different challenges that a player faces is what Babb likes the most about the sport. She said playing in a tournament like the Holiday Classic was good for her confidence and it keeps her match tough. She plays in a tournament every other weekend.
“Anybody can beat anybody on a given day, so you can’t think [about] whether or not they have beaten you before,” said Babb, who is ranked 95th in the state in Girls 18s. “It is like every day is a different day.”
“Every time you play someone it is always different,” she continued. “The court is going to be different. The weather is going to be different. You are going to be feeling different so it really doesn’t matter. You have to take every match as a new situation. You just keep playing. You know it is for fun and you keep playing and enjoy it because it makes you feel better.”
Deerfield Beach’s Daria Drobotova, 8, also played in the Holiday Classic; however, her goals are obviously slightly different that Babb’s. The third grader at Del Prado Elementary School in Boca Raton has played tennis four years, but mostly against girls three and four years older.
“It is hard to play with an older girl, but I still keep trying to beat her,” Drobotova said. “But if I lose to her, it is okay because she is older. If I am playing someone who is older, I sometimes get nervous, but then I feel like it is okay. It doesn’t matter. If I lose, I lose and if I win, I win.”
Drobotova, who entered the tournament as the top seed, fell in the Girls 12 Singles Semifinal to Delray Beach’s Sabira Mohamed, 7-6(3); 6-2 and advanced to the Girls’ 12 Singles Consolation final where she dropped a 6-3; 6-4 decision to Melbourne, Australia’s Lara Tovich.
“I have played a lot of matches in the 12 & Unders,” Drobotova said. “I lost to them, but I kept trying and trying and one of them I won.”
Drobotova said it is important when she wins her matches because it shows her that she is playing better.
“It shows that I am playing better than the other girls and that I am trying harder,” Drobotova said. “It is really a fun sport. When you try it, and you get it, it is really easy.”
Deerfield Beach’s Adelya Mukhutdinova won her Girls’ 14 Singles Consolation Final as she swept Allison Isaacs (Dana Point, CA) 6-0; 6-1.