Reaching for the Top-Athlete of the week Juliana Nelkin

Year: Freshman

Major: Physical Education

Sport: Tennis

Freshman Juliana Nelkin will advance to the Women's State Tennis tournament in the doubles competition to be held in San Diego on May 10-12.

Nelkin, along with doubles partner Criss Rodriguez, advanced when they made it the final round at regionals, but lost to #2 ranked doubles duo Sonia Landeros and Jessica Worring of Ventura 6‐4, 6‐1 in the Women's Tennis Regional Championships in Palm Desert.

"It was a great accomplishment and Criss and I played hard and we were able to advance despite losing in the final."

Nelkin along with partner Criss Rodriguez are currently ranked #3 in the state in the doubles category.

"We have a really good shot at winning the tournament in doubles and I am going in with high expectations," said Nelkin.

Nelkin is a full-time student at Santa Monica College and is majoring in physical education. She spends her mornings in the classroom, where she is currently taking five classes and spends her afternoons playing tennis.

"It is really hard to try and balance your time between school and tennis,” said Nelkin. “But I manage and do the best that I can."

When Nelkin was in second grade, she was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder and also had reading comprehension and memory problems.

Nelkin grew up in Manhatten, New York and was enrolled in The Churchill School and Center for kids with learning disabilities.

During her time at Churchill, her school created a tennis team for her because they did not offer the sport at the middle school level.

"My school made a tennis team for me when I was in seventh grade because I loved to play tennis,” said Nelkin. “ We didn't have much of a team, but I was glad to be a part of it."

Nelkin fell in love with tennis when she was only six years old. She grew up watching her parents play tennis and also had an opportunity to attend the US Open.

"One of the best memories that I have was when I had an opportunity to watch Andre Aggasi at the US Open," said Nelkin. “He has been a big inspiration for me and I love his ambition and love for the game."

In 2006, Nelkin was a freshman on the Varsity Women's tennis team where she excelled as a singles and doubles player.

In 2007, she was ranked #1 in doubles in all of New York City and qualified for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Junior Competition called Zonals. There she had an opportunity to complete with top tennis players across the country in her age group.

That same year Nelkin also competed in the International Tennis Federation (ITA) tournament in Waco, Texas where she made it to the round of 16 as a singles player.

In 2009, Nelkin tried out to be a ball girl for the US Open and was selected.

"It was a great experience for me,” said Nelkin. “You really have to be focused, fast and ready for anything to happen."

After graduating high school in 2011 and at only nineteen years of age, she made one of the biggest decisions of her life. She decided to leave her family in New York City and move across the country to Los Angeles on her own.

Nelkin moved in with her cousins that she was very close with because she never had a chance to see them while living in New York, and felt like this would be a great opportunity to be closer to them.

"I felt like the school was a great fit for me and I am very happy to be in Los Angeles," said Nelkin.