When Catherina Krespi was a little girl, her mother would spend most Saturdays playing tennis. Because she looked up to her mother, she naturally began to take a liking to the sport.
“My mom was a really big influence on me,” Catherina said. “I would always ask where she was and she would be out playing tennis. Soon I started taking private lessons.”
Krespi, who also goes by the name “Kat,” was born and raised in Manhattan and, now a freshman in high school, trains at Roosevelt Island Racquet Club where she has been for about seven years. This past fall, she made the varsity team at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory where she helped lead the Lions to a perfect season.
Despite being just a freshman, Krespi was integral to her team’s success this past season. She played in the third singles spot and went undefeated as Columbia Prep captured the Private School Athletic Association (PSAA) Championship.
“Her overall passion for the game is contagious,” said Columbia Prep Head Coach Stefanie Forman. “Kat was undefeated at third singles this year, which was a very impressive feat. We could always count on her. She did whatever she could to make us better and was always at her best. Additionally, her sense of humor was a wonderful addition to the team, and she is a natural leader.”
Her on-court success is the result of a lot of hard work over the last few years, most notably, her time spent at Roosevelt Island. Her game was very raw when she first started receiving formal training, and her hard work has helped produce that well-rounded game that Forman refers to. Krespi even recalls a time when she was younger and was struggling with her serve. Xavier Luna, Director of Junior Tennis for Roosevelt Island Racquet Club, noticed that she wasn’t using a Continental Grip, and so he had her serve for over an hour with the proper grip until she became comfortable.
“Now my serve is one of the strongest points of my game,” said Krespi. “I owe Xavier for that. Our relationship is really close. I can always approach him about anything. He is a really good coach and is always pushing me towards my goals. He is always checking in on me when I am playing tournaments. I owe him and the Roosevelt Island team so much because without them, I would not be the player I am today. Roosevelt Island has been like a home to me.”
Kat’s powerful first serve has become one of the finer points of her game and she has even developed a consistent second serve, which has allowed her to take control of points early in rallies. She possesses a stellar backhand and has a strong inside-out forehand which make up her versatile game.
“I was most impressed by Kat’s awareness and understanding of her game,” Forman said of her first impressions of Krespi, who was named to the All-PSAA team for her play this season. “She knows her strengths and the areas she needs to work on as well. Even when she is not at her best on the court, she finds a way to be resourceful and win with her resilience and strategy. She truly comprehends every facet of tennis. She has a well-rounded game and can keep up with anyone.”
That work ethic she has established has led to her consistent progress as a player, and Krespi’s passion for the sport will only help her as she continues to grow. Her goal is to keep climbing up the ranks on her high school team, rising up the ladder to eventually reach the first singles spot and become a team captain.
“My ultimate goal is to play in college,” said Krespi. “I have a lot of friends who have made it onto college teams and received partial or full scholarships, so that is definitely one of my goals.”
Krespi will get back onto the tournament circuit beginning in February and will continue to put in the time at Roosevelt Island to improve her game. Still just a freshman, Krespi has a lot of time to grow as a player and a person on her way to reaching her goals.
“This is just the beginning for Kat,” said Forman. “I am confident that she will continue to flourish and be a force to be reckoned with on the court. Her dedication to the game shines through in everything she does, and I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to coach her this year.”