Shelly Zalezniak, '21. (Photo courtesy of Zalezniak)

Class of 2021: Shelly Zalezniak develops her tennis game at Country Day

Senior Shelly Zalezniak is a tennis athlete who immigrated from Israel when she was beginning her sophomore year at Country Day.

Zalezniak was born in Israel and started playing tennis at the Arden Hills Country Club when she was 8 years old. 

“I used to come to Sacramento every year to spend summer vacation with my dad and play with the Arden Hills tennis team,” Zalezniak said. “When my summer break ended, I went back to playing for my team in Israel.”

Tennis in Israel is similar to tennis in the United States, Zalezniak said. The only difference is that tennis in the United States felt more competitive.

When she turned 14 , she permanently moved to Sacramento to continue her studies at Sacramento Country Day School. She felt like the Country Day tennis team was an opportunity to fit in and make friends.

Along with the Country Day tennis team, she continued playing tennis for the Arden Hills Country Club and joined the club’s swim team.

“I continued to swim during my junior year, but stopped swimming once COVID-19 started,”  Zalezniak said

Zalezniak enjoys playing tennis for her club and dreams about becoming a professional one day.

“I’m really passionate about playing tennis because of how free I feel when I’m on the court,” Zalezniak said.

Zalezniak said backhands and volleys are her strength.

During her senior year at Country Day, she played in three different tennis matches and won all of them. 

“This season I felt like a champ,” she said.

Her tennis coach from Arden Hills, Luke Whalen, is very proud of her.

“Shelly brings laughter and joy to everybody she’s around,” Whalen said.

Zalezniak poses for a photo in front of the podium at graduation on June 10. (Photo courtesy of Zalezniak)

Shelly’s friend from her tennis club, Mia, also likes having her on the team.

“I enjoy doing drills and talking with Shelly during group lessons,” she said.

One evening, Zalezniak received a text message from Country Day tennis team captain Sanjana Anand about a tennis match the next day. 

“She told me I am playing singles which freaked me out a little. But it turned out to be a good match because I won.”

Sometimes, the temperature outside interferes with her tennis matches.

“If you are a tennis player, you know how hard and annoying it is to play tennis on a hot day,” Zalezniak said. “I’m always out there trying my best.”

She will be attending California State University, Sacramento, for college.

“I like Sac State because it’s close to home, and I didn’t want to be far away from my family,” Zalezniak said. “Also, Sac State has a great business program.”

She wants to go into business like her father.

“I’m looking to make the most out of college next year and become a better tennis player,”  Zalezniak said.

Zalezniak plans to continue playing tennis for Sac State and for her Arden Hills tennis team.

— By Callister Misquitta

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