SMC Weekly Fitness: Tennis Star Jutta Collet

One of the brightest stars in the constellation of the Lady Corsairs' tennis team is 19-year old sensation Jutta Collet. Collet was born in Abidjan, the former capital of Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa. Her father owned a tennis club and insisted that his daughter learn the sport. Collet started playing when she was eight years old and juggled her tennis lessons with classical dance, gymnastics and swimming. "My mom said I had to choose one, so I chose tennis," Collet said.

When she was 13, her school was burned after a civil war erupted and Collet's parents made the decision to send her to a boarding school in the Bordeaux region of France.

The school also happened to be a tennis academy. Collet's confidence as a player was initially shaken when she first compared herself to the other girls at the academy. "They were all good and I was like, the worst," said Collet. "They didn't want to play with me. For Collett, however, quitting was never an option.

"I started playing and practicing a lot and had a good progression throughout the four years, and when I left, I was ranked enough to be a teacher," she said.

Compared to boarding school, Los Angeles was a chaotic and difficult environment for Collet to stay regimented. Collet has had to apply focus and self-discipline to her training in order to maintain her level of fitness. Although, she says, "the first thing I ate when I got off the plane was a burger."

Her current pre-game eating routine consists of pasta and white meat the night before, and a salad about an hour prior to avoid feeling heavy before a match. She also snacks on bananas and electrolyte-enhanced beverages to keep her energy up during competition.

Collet and her teammates prepare for games by running laps and doing "sprinting exercises around cones." She says the cone exercise is her favorite because "it's more specific to the footwork we use on the court."

Collet expressed the importance of having both mental and emotional stability along with physical fitness.

"Tennis is a hard sport mentally and physically, but playing on a team has been really good, it was the best thing I could've done," said Collet. "When I got here, my English was bad and I didn't have any friends, but my teammates helped me a lot and they've always been there for me."

Collet believes every student should play at least one sport because "it gives you a lot of opportunities to do other things," she said.

The communications major is hoping for the opportunity to continue doing what she loves.

"I would love to have a scholarship to play tennis for another school," Collet said. "That's my dream; tennis is really a fun thing to do."

Collet feels her first choice would be to play for UCLA because of their superb tennis team and the chance it would afford her to make a permanent home in Los Angeles.

"I really love L.A. and I'm tired of moving," she said.