Never question Imani Jean’s dedication and willingness to go above and beyond when it comes to tennis.
The 16-year-old JTCC High Performance player who grew up in Brooklyn, NY, traveled back and forth between New York and Maryland for one year in 2018 to train at JTCC. Making the arduous three-and-a-half-hour trek from her father’s residence in New York to her mother and sibling’s apartment in Maryland twice a month, Jean traveled in two-week intervals.
“It was difficult. It was hard to keep up my social life with my friends, and I had to find a balance between tennis and my personal life. The three-hour commute wasn’t terrible because I got to sleep for most of it, and when I didn’t, I would do homework,” commented Jean.
A Full-Time Champions program participant for the past three years, Jean is currently ranked #29 in the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section.
“Imani has put a lot of hard work and effort into her game during her time here,” JTCC Staff Professional Paula Coyos said. “She is always early to practice and has a dedication, determination, and drive to continue to improve every day.”
A multi-sport athlete growing up competing in soccer and swimming, Jean transitioned full-time to tennis shortly before joining JTCC.
“I like playing tennis mainly because it is an individual sport, and I love competing,” Jean said.
Currently training in the National Champs summer program designed for tournament level players who are 14 and older, Jean recently won an L5 Girls’ 16 & Under USTA tournament in Mountainside, NJ.
“All of the different styles of kids here have helped shape me into the person I am right now,” Jean commented. “My time at JTCC has positively impacted my character, and our tennis training has helped me with my discipline. Director of School Mark Santangelo has helped me a lot with staying on track with my academics in the classroom.”
The rising senior describes herself on the court as focused, athletic, and creative but also possessing one peculiar superstition in matches.
“At changeovers in my matches, I have to drink my Gatorade before my water,” Jean remarked. “The water has to be the last thing. I can’t drink the water, Gatorade, then eat a banana. It has to end with water.”
With aspirations to play tennis at a Division I college, Jean is currently focusing on the present.
“Right now, my motivation is to keep getting better and get a higher Universal Tennis Rating,” Jean stated. “That will eventually lead me to a good college where I can study, play tennis, and maybe even play professionally one day.”