Tennis player Maxi Duncan recently accepted an offer to attend Harvard next fall and will be a member of the Crimson women’s tennis team. She chose Harvard over Purdue, Colombia, USC, North Carolina State, UCLA, and Brown.
Duncan is one of the top 20 best junior tennis players in the nation.
Duncan visited UCLA, Colombia, Brown, and USC prior to making her decision. The recruiting process involved her interviewing with coaches via Zoom and doing virtual tours.
“I visited with my dad; once we got on campus, it was very clear that that’s where I wanted to be,” Duncan said. “Seeing all the buildings, all the classes, and all the eating places and everything, I immediately fell in love.”
Duncan hopes to be either an English or Economics major while pursuing her dreams of being a pro tennis player.
COVID-friendly recruiting procedures has pros as well as cons according to Duncan. Certain aspects of the different programs could not be presented to her, she had to fully understand what she wanted out of a team without knowing everything about some of the programs.
“I wasn’t able to meet the team of the schools,” Duncan said. “It was more difficult, but a lot of the schools had really great vertical tours that we got to look at, so they definitely worked around it.”
The COVID-19 pandemic affected her athletic life more than her academic life. Finding competition was difficult as many of the major tournaments were canceled due to the pandemic. However, Duncan found ways to compete.
“There’s a couple of UTR tournaments that I was able to play,” she said. “I was pretty lucky to be able to play them.”
Prior to the pandemic, Duncan would train with a small group of kids. Now she trains alone and focuses more on fitness. Duncan is a lefty who enjoys playing on hard courts.
“I’m used to playing hard court most of the time,” she said. “The ball moves quite quickly, which I like.”
She plays in both singles and doubles tournaments. During the pandemic, Duncan won 16 consecutive matches and won three tournaments.
A challenging moment for Duncan was playing in her first tournament since the Pandemic began. Although she became the champion of the tournament, she faced many difficulties during some matches.
“That was the hardest just not having to play a tournament in a long time … I was able to get to the finals and I didn’t really play very well,” Duncan said. “I was able to overcome it and get the victory.”
Duncan attends CalPac Charter School, an NCAA-accredited online middle and high school based in Southern California. Duncan is the first CalPac student to get accepted into an Ivy League school.
“Going to an Ivy League school coming from CalPac, which is an amazing school,” said Duncan’s father, Gerald. “I think it would have been much more difficult if she would have been in a traditional school.”
Teachers at CalPac assisted Duncan when she was applying for Harvard. She mentioned how she is going to miss her teachers the most when she graduates.
“They’re very supportive and basically available to me 24/7,” Duncan said. “If I’m a little bit behind, they’ll help me, making catchup plans and if I need an extra day to do a project, they’re there to help me make sure I can get the best grade that I’m able to.”