Young Local Tennis Stars Rank Number One
CHARLOTTE, NC- Natalie Lutz is a 10 year old rising fifth grader.
Kirsten Ward is a few months shy of 16.
They both train at the Cleveland Country club and both rank number one in North Carolina in their divisions.
"You think back to all the days we came out here for practices when it snowed... when it rained. It was just all worth it," said Robert Ward, Natalie’s father.
Natalie has only been playing tennis for two years, but she holds the number one spot not only her but in eight other states too.
"It just feels really good," said Natalie Ward.
She spends up to five hours a day practicing in the summer…and about three during the school year... and she still finds time for other activities.
"I do soccer, dance, gymnastics, hip hop, golf.... and tennis," said Natalie.
Kirsten is home schooled. That gives her more time to play, which she hopes will lead to a college scholarship.
"The division one colleges look for a top national ranking so I've been playing more national tournaments to try and get my national ranking higher," said Kirsten.
Kirsten and her mom stay in Shelby during the week to be close to the club... and travel home to Statesville on weekends.
"You have to watch their nutrition, make sure they're getting their school work done, make sure they're getting fitness in there. If they've got an injury, you've got to take care of that," said Bonnie Ward, Kirsten’s mom.
The girls' coach says their hard work is bringing great attention to shelby.
"Two kids out of the 10 age division in junior tennis is North Carolina that are ranked number one from the same program and it not be a metropolitan program or a very big program, I think is very unique," said Cleveland Country Club Tennis Pro Scott Handback.
Kirsten and Natalie are both playing in a tournament Monday at the Old Providence Racquet Club in South Charlotte.