Liz Norman (left) and her coach Anthony Foti (right) pose for a portrait at the Olde Towne Athletic Club tennis courts in Marietta, Georgia, on May 12, 2017. After being shifted up to Class AAAAAAA, the Walton High School girl’s tennis team stepped up and won the state championship, while Norman herself went undefeated in a 17-0 season. She was recently ranked as the 53rd tennis player in the United States for her class, and as a five star recruit will attend James Madison University in the fall. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)
Photo: Henry Taylor
Photo: Henry Taylor

High school girls tennis player of the year

Girls Tennis Player of the Year

Liz Norman, Walton

Achievements: Was undefeated at No. 1 singles and helped Walton win its sixth consecutive state championship at the highest level of competition. Won two rounds at women’s pro tournament. Reached quarterfinals at U-18 Super Nationals. Five-star recruit.

Height/Weight: 5-foot-8, 160 pounds

Class: Senior

College choice: Signed to play at James Madison

Why James Madison: The coach (James Bryce) is trying to build up a really good team, and I have a good relationship with some of the girls on the team. I love the campus and the feel of it because it feels like home in Indiana. And it has a good physics program, which is what I want to study.

Best high school moment: In a match against North Paulding in the quarterfinals, I was playing a girl and it was a close match. I wasn’t really expecting to win but when I did, the whole team ran up to me and hugged me, and that was one of the best things. I had always dreamed of that and never thought it would happen.

Why tennis: My parents played it, and I’ve always wanted to copy my parents. Once I got a racket and played with my dad, it seemed to come natural to me.

What you’d like to be doing in 10 years: Working for NASA at Cape Canaveral. I’d like to look for new galaxies to learn more about.

Favorite high school course: I love science. My favorite is physics because that’s the field (astronomy) that I want to go into. Since I was a small child I’ve always loved space. I’d always buy books about solar systems and galaxies. It’s always been an interest of mine.

People who helped along the way: Definitely my parents (David and Joanie Norman), because they’ve helped me with everything. Also, the coaches that I’ve had in the past and present have guided me in my tennis ability and my life.

Toughest high school opponent: Anne Marie Hiser of North Paulding. Even though she’s a freshman, she has won all the 18s tournaments. I won the first set (after being behind) and went to the bathroom to put ice on my face because it was so hot. I got down in the second set and was getting tired and got up 5-4 and got down 40-15. I said to myself, I need this game and I need this for the team. I pulled up two really big serves, one ace and one nearly an ace, and wound up winning the match.

Favorite movie: “Star Wars.” It has to do with space; it has action and it has some comedy in it. I love Han Solo and Darth Vader. They’re my two favorite characters. I don’t know why, but I really love Darth Vader. I met Darth Vader at Disney World, and I was really shaking. I don’t know why; it was only an actor, but I was really shaking.

Favorite song: “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson. It has a really good rhythm, and I love Michael Jackson and the way he sang that song. You can jam to it.

Worst high school moment: I’d say the first day I began high school (after being home-schooled) because it was so awkward. The first semester was OK; the second semester was OK, and by the time my senior year came around it was a close unit and I had a lot of friends.

If you could be any other athlete on earth: (Olympic gymnast) Laurie Hernandez. Gymnastics would be cool, and I’d like to try something new. She has such a bubbly personality.

Money or happiness: Happiness. Happiness can override money any day. Money isn’t going to make you happy for the rest of your life.

Best word to describe yourself: Stubborn. If we’re playing a game, I will play that game until the end of time and I’ll do whatever I feel like doing.

View of the world at this moment: Hopeful. I’m hoping for the future to be good and kind to me. I’m hoping for everything to turn out good.

What you would put in a time capsule: Moe’s burritos. If they can be preserved. It’s one of my favorite foods.

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