Christine Calhoun of Woodrow Wilson High School and Crystal Swann of Banneker arguably are the two best girls singles players in the Interhigh. But their paths to reach this level are as different as their tennis styles.
Calhoun, the younger of the two, has recently become interested in competitive tennis and lacks experience She is still trying to put together her game.
Swann is experienced in tournament competition, having participated in last year's Interhigh tournament. She also has a more defined game plan.
In an match earlier this spring, Swann defeated Calhoun, 10-7. The constrasting styles were evident.
Swann, 16, is undefeated this year and appeared to be physically stronger and more experienced than Calhoun in handing her her only defeat of the year.
For the past five years Calhoun spent most of her spare time refining her musical talents with the clarinet and electric keyboards. Now, after having mastered the musical challenge she is pursuing the challenge of tennis.
The sophomore has been playing tennis for eight years, but has only played competitively the past year.
With the help of her family -- that includes her mother, who is a teaching pro, a brother and two sisters that play tennis -- Calhoun has made steady progress toward becoming one of the top girls singles players in the Interhigh.
The strength of Calhoun's game is her backhand; it is the most improved part of her game.
"When I was younger, I didn't think I needed a backhand," said Calhoun. "As I got older I developed a two-handed backhand, but one weekend while watching tennis on television, I saw Gabriela Sabatini playing a match and was impressed with her one-handed topspin backhand. I tried to develop one of my own and my mother helped me with my grip."
Calhoun feels her volley is the weakest part of her game.. "I set aside one-half hour each morning for jogging and hitting the tennis ball, and I practice two hours each day with the team after school at Lafayette playground from 3 to 5 p.m.," she said.
"Her shot selection is one of her assests," said Wilson Coach Isom Upkins. "Her choice of shots is almost always correct, and she is never in doubt of which shots to use."
Swann has played for seven years, becoming interested in the sport when her mother took tennis lessons. Swann took lessons from Ernie Ingram and has become the best in the Interhigh using a variety of tactics.
"My strategy depends on my opponent," said Swann. "During the warmups, I can usually tell after two or three volleys if I have an opponent that plays an aggresssive game or a passive one.
"Most opponents that I have faced will wait for you to make a mistake, so as a result, I feel that it is up to me to make the first aggressive move. Then I try to attack my opponent's weaknesses."
Swann feels her base line play and forehand are the strength of her game and that her serve and volley are weak points, although she is working with a coach, Willis Thomas Jr., to improve.
"I usually practice four times a week either with the Washington Tennis Patrons or with the team," she said.
Although Swann doesn't really pattern herself after any pro player, she admires the play of Martina Navratilova and Zina Garrison. "I had a chance to see them practice and meet them at the Virgina Slims tournament," said Swann.