Tennis has been an integral part of Co-Captain Reimi Kusaka’s ’21 life since she first started playing nine years ago. For Kusaka, the sport has been a safe space where she was able to explore herself and grow into her identity.
Kusaka said, “I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and I was struggling with finding my identity and self-confidence issues a lot. I feel like being on the court allowed me to stand up for myself and because tennis is such an individual sport, I was able to find my identity and also gain a lot of confidence in myself.”
According to Kusaka, Girls Tennis Head Coach Deborah Chase has been more than just a coach to her and has been a big support system throughout her four years on the team.
“Sometimes academically at this school and with my abilities on the court, I lost a lot of self-confidence at times. But, I really appreciated Coach Chase because she’s always mentioned her confidence in me and my abilities. For me, she’s more than a coach and especially being a boarder here, being away from my parents, she was really a second mother for me here since freshman year. She’s my coach, my mentor, and my idol,” Kusaka said.
According to Emory Wilson ’23, Kusaka is an approachable leader and inspires the team through her dedication to the sport.
Wilson said, “Well, she’s a very talented tennis player, but she’s also really warm and really caring. She cares a lot about all of the players on the team… She pushes herself really hard to be a better player, which I admire her for.”
As a co-captain, Kusaka strives to show her support for her teammates both on and off the court. She reflects what her past captains have done for the team and attempts to exemplify their leadership skills.
Kusaka said, “I try to think back on what my past captains would do because they supported me so much my first and second year. I think as captain it’s really important to show support for all the teammates both on and off the courts and especially during Covid-19 times. I thought it was important to show my support and be there for people on the team even if it’s not during a match, in general as well. I hope that I’ve been able to do that well for my people.”
According to Elizabeth Zhang ’22, Kusaka truly shows her support for her teammates by looking out and helping them if they are feeling down.
Zhang said, “[Kusaka is] always looking out for everybody, she’s always asking how everybody is doing. In terms of caring, she’s just very aware when people around her might be feeling a little down… She’s just very cognizant of when one of us might not be in their best mood.”
According to Co-Captain Nicole Lee ’22, Kusaka’s positivity radiates through her leadership and provides motivation for the team as a whole.
“She is the definition of a ray of sunshine, she’s always looking on the positive side, and trying to make your day brighter. She’s really supportive as I said, she’ll always check in on how you’re doing, and she doesn’t ever expect anything from you,” Lee said.
According to Kusaka, tennis has been impactful in ways that go beyond athletics. Her favorite aspect about the sport is that she’s able to be in tune with herself and that she’s learned resilience through it.
“I think [tennis has] helped me learn a lot of life lessons. My favorite part about the sport is that it’s not timed. I know that there’s a countdown for sports like lacrosse or basketball, but for tennis you keep playing until the end. You get to take your own time. I think the most important lesson I learned in tennis is to be resilient in that you can come back from any moment on your own without the pressure of time. That’s what I like a lot about the sport,” said Kusaka.
Kusaka plans to continue her athletic and academic career next year at Colby College.