July 06, 2012I would like to start my blog off with an interview with a good friend, Faby Chaillo, who also happens to be the Virginia AAA Girls High School State Tennis Singles Champion. During the question and answer, Faby talks her personal experiences, and the road she took to finally capture the state champion. Learn more about Faby, and her favorite pre game routines, meals, equipment, and more! Thank you!
1. Has the publicity and hype over being a state champion changed you in any ways?
I would not say the publicity or hype have changed me in any way. I definitely think they made me feel some self-pride; I did enjoy being recognized for all my hard work, sacrifices, effort, and accomplishments but I really don't think it has changed who I am.
2. I know that you will be attending UVA next year, but before your college decision, were you heavily recruited?
Well I don't know if you are aware of my injury, but I've been out of competitive tennis (other than this high school season) for two years now because I broke my back and hips and has 3 surgeries, so that changed everything. I had been getting recruiting all through high school unofficially and was been scouted and watched a lot by different universities. However, junior year is the only year that the NCAA allows direct recruitment and it was the year of my surgeries and many health problems that came along with that so it wasn't the usual recruitment my coaches, parents, and I expected since I couldn't show off my tennis, but only my past with a blurred future, not having much to offer with certainty and these days good teams can't afford players with a risk of injury. So yes, I was heavily recruited but I had to constantly disappoint coaches that were looking to have me on their teams. I did take a couple official visits to some schools I was interested in like Brown and Cornell but without the certainty from doctors of me being able to play again, it was best for me not to commit to a team. Up to now, especially after my state championship I still get calls from coaches who want me to play for their teams but my body is not ready to go back to the competitive commitment that I'd need to play in a good D1 tennis team.
3. As an IB Student and as a student-athlete, was it difficult to juggle the demands of tennis and the rigor of the IB program? Did it ever get overwhelming? In the end, was it truly worth it?
It definitely is a challenge to be in a rigorous program like IB while also training and traveling so much for a sport. The IB is hard enough as it is and it was overwhelming and tiring in times of exams and tournaments, like throughout districts and states having IB exams as well. However, it is definitely something manageable and it all pays off. A lot of the high level players don't even go to school anymore to focus full time on tennis, and even though my family and I thought about it many times while being pushed by coaches, we always decided it was best to keep school as my priority and it was very smart because now with my injuries I still got into great colleges because of my academics alone, no tennis. So it was 100% worth all the work, plus no one can take my memories, knowledge, experiences, and accomplishments away from me, whether it was worth it or not on paper, those things are worth a lot more.
4. What tennis shoe / company do you wear? Do you think that the equipment really makes or breakes the athlete?
I wear Adidas Barricades, I have been a Barricade girl since their first shoe and now I wear the Barricades 7. It's one of those things that varies from player to player. I honestly wear these shoes just because someone once told me it'd be good for my back when I was starting to have problems, tried them, liked them and haven't tried anything else since. Personally I don't think the equipment makes or breaks the athlete at all. Of course having the equipment that is appropriate to each player's game and body is a plus but it really all comes down to the player.
5. Did your social life have to take a back seat at any point because of tennis?
Haha! I didn't know what taking a back seat for my social life was before my injuries because I grew up with a very, very limited social life. I've always liked to go out and had a lot of friends but they just weren't as important to me as my tennis. By the age of 7 I was already playing 4 hours a day every day and traveling for tournaments all over the tourney, so there wasn't much time for a social life outside of tennis. A BIG part of tennis however is the social aspect to it; before I moved here, my group of friends was always from tennis; those were the people I went out with to do normal stuff with: watched movies, went swimming, dated, etc. I love my tennis people and it is so fun to be able to travel the country and go out to dinner and then play hotel tag or hit up the beach with your friends in Cali, Florida, NY after matches. I still miss the player parties the night before first round at nationals or the New Year's Celebration in Arizona at Winter Supernationals. USTA Tennis had its own little world and outside of just tennis, there were cliques, drama, boyfriends and girlfriends, all the same but with different priorities. Other than that though, my parents always gave me the liberty to decide between going out or playing and there were many of the times when I had a party and a tournament and couldn't decide, but I always ended up choosing tennis, and I was very happy with that and if I could go back, it'd do it all the same way. During my injuries, however, I actually began to experience a "normal teenage" life with freedom to stay up late, eat without counting nutrition points, having to take ice/heat baths, etc. and now that I'm getting back to tennis, I am a lot more balanced with both because I've realized that some relationships are worth a lot more than any sport.
6. What's your favorite pre-game meal, or activity?
I don't really like to eat much before matches; but I do eat bananas after every match! However, I do have a little pre-game routine. Well, not really anymore, but when I played more seriously I used to zone out of everything about 20 minutes before my match. My parents, coaches, and friends all knew, 20 minutes before my match, I couldn't talk with them. I'd just put my headphones in and blast some techno while I ran for a little to get moving, and once warm, I would sit on the floor (always away from people) and close my eyes and visualize. It's something I've been taught to do since I was little by my mental toughness coaches and I am convinced it's good—the mind is powerful and mental control is 80% of the game. Everyone at that level has good tennis, but it's the mind that sets the great ones apart. So I needed my "me-time" to visualize myself playing some great tennis.
7. What music do you listen to to get in the zone for your matches?
Techno/house. Always up-beat, pump-up music. And this is a little embarrassing and kinda corny but the last song I listen to while walking to the court before a match is always "Life is what you make it" by Hannah Montana because the lyrics say the exact things I need to keep in mind during the match so I just keep it in my head throughout the game.
8. What do you feel is the strongest part of your game?
Me. What's gotten me where I am is my personality, my persistence or stubbornness, and my brain—not so much my tennis itself. On the court my strength is that I am a smart player, I can quickly spot my opponents weaknesses and adjust my game to hurt her. I 'm a short girl compared to most players and I'm never going to overpower them; but I can outrun them, not because I'm fast, but because I won't ever give up. For example, in my state championship match, Victoria was in better shape, better trained, and her tennis itself I'd say was better than mine at the moment since I've been out for so long; but I beat her with my brain. I had to mix it up to get to her weaknesses and to keep her from hitting so much power that I couldn't handle.
9. Thinking back, were there any individuals in your life who had a great effect on your game? Does any particular coach or mentor really stick out?
Two actually: my mental toughness coach Graham Stirwell and my mom. They have made me the person, player, competitor, and "champion" I am. They taught me that to become a champion on paper "you have to BE a champion" in your everyday life, not just tennis; and you control that. They both always gave me advice more than just to fix my grip or hit different spins, shared amazing moments, and helped me overcome the toughest ones, and I couldn't be more thankful for making me the person I am; their advice for tennis has gone way beyond the court.
Thanks again Faby!!! INTENNIS viewers, stay tuned for some more exciting tennis news coming your way! Be sure to check out my blog weekly for the latest collegiate and high school news and everything INTENNIS!!!