In the spotlight is Auburn High's Tanner Debardelaben, a sophomore on the Tigers' varsity tennis team.
AV: When did you get your start playing tennis?
Tanner Debardelaben: When I was like 4 years old. My dad used to be a professional, so he started me off playing. And I’ve been playing ever since. Basically, it’s just been my number one sport.
AV: What do you enjoy about playing tennis?
TD: I didn’t really like team sports. I liked individual; it’s all about yourself. I like doing it on my own. And I just wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps, basically. He kind of led me down that path.
AV: Would your dad be your role model in the sport? And what did you learn from him?
TD: Yeah. Basically, just the whole thing. He went on the professional tour for tennis. He played college tennis at Auburn, so basically I just wanted to be like him.
AV: What’s your strongest tennis stroke?
TD: My backhand, actually. That’s my best stroke. I can place it anywhere almost. And that’s my go-to shot. If it’s the most important part of the match, I’m going to try to get my backhand involved.
AV: What stroke or aspect of the game do you need to work on the most?
TD: Probably my forehand still, and my serve needs a little help, my second serve, but I’m working on it every day.
AV: How is the season going so far?
TD: We’ve only lost to two teams. Our record is really strong. We should have a good shot at the state this year.
AV: Do you have one match that sticks out where you played your best?
TD: Yeah. We played Vestavia. And he’s one of the best kids in the state, and I played really good. I won the match easily. I just played too good that day. I’m ready to play him again at state if I have to.
AV: Do you have any professional players you looked up to?
TD: Probably Roger Federer. He’s just the best of all time. If I could be anybody, I’d probably want to be him.
AV: What do you like about this game?
TD: He’s just so smooth on the court. He almost hits any ball he wants. He has all the shots in the game.
AV: Do you play any other sports?
TD: I used to basketball, baseball, but I quit just for tennis now.
AV: Do you have any hobbies outside of sports?
TD: I play video games, and I like hanging out with friends.
Interview by Brian Woodham