Woodstock junior Savannah Wood picked up a racquet when she was 11 years old and hasn’t put it down since. Her father, Jeff Wood, operates an academy at Deer Run and played tennis in college. He now serves as a coach for his daughters, Savannah and Gabrielle Wood — two of the family’s seven children.
Savannah Wood said she loved tennis from the minute she tried it.
“The very first time I went out with my dad, I loved it,” she said.
This season she stepped onto the court at Woodstock for her first team experience after being homeschooled. Wood took over the spot at No. 1 singles and cruised to a 15-2 record.
For her accomplishments this season, Wood has been named the Cherokee Tribune Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
Woodstock girls’ tennis coach Jeff Wagner said Wood was a natural fit. The biggest challenge for him was finding a way to challenge Wood.
“When I really wanted to challenge Savannah I would set up things or bring in guys from the boys team to hit with her,” said Wagner. “She is very modest, but she is very good.”
Wood, who plays year round, has been working to increase her endurance and fitness level. She joined the Woodstock cross country team last fall and has been following the Insanity workout program. She also lifts weights to gain shoulder strength.
She lists her speed as her greatest asset.
“I’ve been working on my fitness and it’s really starting to pay off,” said Wood. “I can stay out there long and move faster and it helps me with my intensity. I try to practice an hour and a half a day. I’m going two weekends a month to tennis tournaments, especially with college coming up and trying to get recruited.”
She said her next goal is to receive a scholarship to a Division I school and so far, several are interested.
Wood’s biggest challenge this season was handling the pressure. Prior to joining the team she played tennis only as an individual.
“There was a lot of pressure not to let the team down,” she said. “That was the hardest to deal with, the little bit of nerves.”
Still she enjoyed being a part of a team.
“I love it,” Wood said. “I enjoyed being a part of it and all the girls were really supportive.”
Wagner said that Woodstock enjoyed having Wood. In many ways she was a gift to the team, coming in as a junior.
“I had heard that she was thinking of coming to Woodstock and as a coach you always hear about players in your area, who you might get,” said Wagner. “You learn not to think much of it until you actually see it, so she was a welcomed gift. Not just for her ability, but because of the type of person that she is.”