SBCC women’s tennis player thrives with unusual racket

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Kim Grossman

Maddie Seeds,19, of the City College women’s tennis team, shows off her double-handled racket Saturday morning, April 9, at the country club courts in her hometown of Santa Maria. Though predominantly left-handed, her specialized racket allows her to play ambidextrously. Seeds has played tennis for roughly five years and her perseverance has landed her in the semi-finals conference re-scheduled for this following weekend, April 14.

ZAC GOTTLIEB, Channels Staff

Maddie Seeds places her unique two-handled racket on the court at Pershing Park for the last time before looking to the sky, dusting her hands off on her Vaqueros jersey and wandering over to her mother who attends every available home game.

Seeds has represented the City College women’s tennis team with fine form this season, winning 11 out of 15 games.

“I loved my time here and I loved my coaches a lot, they really helped me regain my confidence and truly pushed me to go further,” Seeds said.

She credits a lot of her success this season to her two-handled racket, which she believes has given her an edge over her Western State Conference competitors.

“I improved a lot faster with this racket,” said Seeds. “I never really got used to the one handed rackets so I switched within my first six months of playing tennis.”

Seed’s high school tennis coach, Patrick Ortega, introduced the two­-handled tennis racket and taught her for four of her six years.

“[Ortega] taught me well with the racket but more about maturity throughout the game,” said Seeds. “It was more about how I’m supposed to act on and off the court just with his true knowledge of tennis. He is where my passion for tennis comes from.”

When Seeds turned 17, she wanted to improve so she dedicated all of her time to tennis.  “That was when I was like ‘I can go further with this,” said Seeds.

Ortega’s help in showing her the unique racket has given Seeds a chance to perfect and grow her skills in the game of tennis.

“[Maddie] is a great competitor with great attitude and is certainly the top singles player I have seen this year,” Ortega said. “She is the kind of player that must be playing at a four ­year institution next year.”

The nature of her two­-handled racket allows the left ­handed Seeds to play a right ­handed forehand, while still controlling the shot with her stronger arm.

“The racket was first created by inventor Lionel Burt for fitness reasons,” Ortega said. “To allow users to play the same strokes on both sides of their bodies, develop all their muscles at the same rate and thus avoid injury.”

“[Burt] couldn’t redesign the human body so he had to redesign the tennis racket,” Ortega said. “If you ask a tennis player which is their best shot 90 percent of the time they would say their forehand, so why not hit that forehand every time?”  

“I feel like I could have done better,” Seeds said. “Right now I am in the semi­finals and even a final so my goal is to win these so that I can feel better about my overall record.”

Seeds plans to eventually play tennis professionally and believes her racket will aid her toward her goal.