Anna Rogers is a 24-year-old professional tennis player from Stamford, Connecticut. She played five years of collegiate tennis at NC State University and graduated in 2021. Anna was a 3x All-American, ranked #8 in singles, and #1 in doubles according to the ITA rankings. She is currently ranked #154 in doubles, and #654 in singles on the WTA tour.
- What was it like growing up in Connecticut? How was tennis introduced to you? Did you play any other sports?
When I was 4 or 5 years old my aunt was working at a local tennis club and convinced my parents to bring me in for some lessons. After a year or so, my parents asked my aunt if it was a sport worth keeping me in, and she replied, “just give it some time”. As I continued playing tennis I was introduced to other sports such as soccer, basketball, lacrosse, ice skating, softball, and golf. I believe growing up in Connecticut and having the support of my parents allowed me to try out all of these sports. I enjoyed living most of my life in Connecticut because it is a family-friendly place and it also had the coaches who shaped me into the player I am today. As I reached my teenage years I was told I had to choose which sport I wanted to pursue and I ultimately chose tennis.
- What do you think led to your success in junior tennis and how did that translate to college?
I have to give all of the credit to my coach Ryan Ginley who evolved me into the best player I could be. I started working with him when I was about 12 years old up until the day I left for college. The beginning of my junior tennis career was nothing special but the hard work eventually paid off and I was ranked highly in the country. Each year my ranking had steady improvement so as the senior year approached I had all of the momentum going forward for college tennis.
- Can you touch on your recruiting process?
The recruiting process was one of the most stressful times in my life thus far. Not only did I have to worry about choosing the best college for me, but I also had to worry about if spots on the team were available, if coaches were still interested, etc. This process also made competing at tournaments more important because coaches were always watching and as a teenager, this was mentally taxing. The constant communication with coaches took a lot of time and energy, especially with the schools I was the most interested in. Planning recruiting trips was also difficult because I needed to find time between tournaments and training to schedule them. After going on visits to the schools I liked the most, I ultimately chose North Carolina State and it was the best decision I could’ve made. The reason why I chose NC State is because of my instant chemistry with the team and coaches, the beautiful city of Raleigh, the uniqueness of the campus, as well as the solid academics.
- What did it mean to you to become the MVP your freshman year?
It was an amazing honor that I was not expecting at all! Winning that award gave me reassurance that I did well that year. We had a historical year by breaking school records and I am just glad I was able to contribute to it.
- What do you think was the leading factor in the “Program Firsts” that you accomplished?
I think the biggest factor was my hunger for improvement. After my sophomore year had ended I lost a lot of matches that season and it was a very emotional time for me. This downfall sparked something in me which would then lead to my future successes. I changed my diet, changed my mentality, and worked on the specifics of my game every day. It was difficult to change everything in the beginning but after help from my coaches and teammates along the way I was able to achieve the “Program Firsts”.
- Looking back on your college career, do you think you improved as each year went on? If so, what?
Throughout my college career, I steadily improved from year to year but the biggest improvement I had was between my sophomore and junior year. Going back to my answer to the previous question, I lost a lot of matches after my sophomore year and decided that I needed to change. I developed a hunger for improvement that continued on until I graduated.
- What was your favorite memory during your college tennis career?
There were so many but my favorite memory was definitely beating Duke for the first time in program history during my final year. The overall score of the match was 3-3 and I was down 5-2 in the third set then came back to win it 7-5. It was the best feeling to win it for the team and especially on Duke’s home court.
- When did you decide you wanted to go pro?
When I started my college career I had no intention to go pro because I didn’t think it was a realistic goal for me. As the end of my 5th year approached I thought I owed it to myself to at least try and not live life with any regrets. I decided right at the end of NCAA’s that I wanted to pursue professional tennis and here I am.
- You’re finishing up your first full year on tour, what have been your biggest takeaways?
After being on tour for a little over a year now I have learned quite a lot. One of if not the biggest takeaways I have from my time on tour so far is that getting to the top is attainable. I’ve seen that there is plenty of opportunity for me in doubles to reach the highest level. The second biggest takeaway is reflecting on how fortunate I am to be able to be living this lifestyle. I have experienced a year full of world travel and competing in the sport I love which some people don’t get to do in their lifetimes. I have the best support system from my parents and coaches, and I appreciate everything they do for me.
- Can you explain the different levels of WTA level events for our readers?
ITF events are the “lower level” tournaments that include 15k, 25k, 60k, and 100k. WTA events include 125k, 250k, 500k, 1000’s, and grand slams. At each increasing level, the points rewarded for winning matches get higher. Once you win enough points at one level and achieve a certain ranking, then you can play higher-level tournaments.
- Can you talk about the difference in pressure, if any, you feel now compared to college matches?
The pressure is much different now than in college matches. On one hand in college, the pressure was winning for your team and on the other hand, playing professionally the pressure comes from the feeling of wasting money and not reaching a certain ranking. Both of these feelings are hard to explain but equally have the same amount of pressure in their different ways.
- Can you talk about life on tour off the court and how it can be stressful for new players on tour?
At these tournaments, I try to make life off-court as fun as possible by either hanging out with other players, exploring the cities, trying different cuisines, etc. The social aspect has gotten a lot easier than in the beginning because I see some of the same players at every tournament. Not knowing anyone in these tournaments would definitely be stressful for new players on tour but after time the feeling goes away. The amount of traveling to different countries is also stressful for new players, especially for ones that didn’t play college tennis.
- What country/ tournament did you enjoy playing in the most?
Traveling to and playing in Portugal was my most enjoyable adventure so far because of how beautiful the country was, how nice the people were, and how good the food was. I spent three weeks in three different cities and I loved each one in its own way!
- Do you have any goals for 2023?
My main goal for 2023 is to compete in grand slams for doubles. I’m currently 160 in the world and would like to reach at least the top 100 in 2023.
- What is one piece of advice you would give to a girl wanting to go pro after college?
The biggest piece of advice I would give is that professional tennis is a completely different world than college tennis and they need to be ready for a change. In college, teams are quite vocal and the energy is through the roof but at these professional tournaments it is more contained and you don’t have a big team around you supplying the energy. Most individuals at these events are super friendly but they also keep to themselves and their teams. To me, it is more difficult to find energy during matches from within myself now than it was playing matches in college.