This summer, Janet Kim ’09 went undefeated on the singles court at Wimbledon. But she won’t tell you that.
She was also undefeated in Ivy League play in her freshman year at Yale, but she won’t tell you that either. In fact, she doesn’t even tell her roommates when she is winning every match.
“She’s the most modest person I’ve met in my entire life,” suitemate Christine Glandorf ’09 said.
Glandorf continued, recalling how she would only discover the tennis player’s successes when she opened up the sports page in the News and read that Kim “kicked ass.”
Performing well is no unfamiliar task for the humble sophomore. In the one year she played high school tennis, Kim was the state singles champ, the 2001 New Jersey Player of the Year, and won the National Open in her age bracket.
That was as a high school freshman. Kim then left the team for the more competitive game of junior tennis.
The player’s early success came from many years of experience. Kim learned to play tennis from her father just about as soon as she could walk, and from that point on, he constantly pushed her to excel.
And excellent she is.
In her freshman year at Yale, she played second and third singles, won every Ivy singles match she played, and was named one of the team’s two MVPs along with Rashmee Patil ’07.
Meanwhile, Kim just keeps on pushing.
Head coach Danielle Lund said Janet keeps working toward improvement even when she wins.
“She’s not satisfied,” Lund said. “She always wants to get better.”
Janet not only carries on her father’s drive for excellence, but also emulates his philosophy on tennis as it relates to life. Through tennis, Janet had the opportunity to practice strategy, decision-making, composure and etiquette while on the court, and she believes these skills and traits are now ingrained in her.
“A lot of the traits that I have in tennis are my personality and have shaped a lot of who I am,” Kim said.
Captain Olivia Nix ’07, who has played both with and against Kim over the years, spoke of her demeanor on and off the court. She said Kim is very determined on the court, talking strategy, getting pumped up and displaying her desire to win.
“Most outside people don’t really see it,” Nix said. “She’s pretty quiet, so I think people get surprised with how competitive she is.”
Perhaps it ties in with her modesty, or perhaps Janet just knows how to keep the intensity of her game on the court.
Off the court, Kim is about as girly as they come. One of her favorite procrastinating techniques is changing her nail polish, which was bright pink as of Sunday. She also spent a whole afternoon cropping and hemming a pair of pants instead of doing her reading for French class. She admittedly loves shopping as well, and casually laughed, saying how materialistic that sounded. But her suitemates love her style and can’t wait for her to debut her new Marc Jacobs moon boots.
Kim also smiles and laughs often, an indication of her relaxed and lighthearted demeanor.
“For someone who can really drill you on the court, she’s not very intimidating,” Glandorf said.
Suitemate Claire Leatherwood ’09 also spoke of Kim’s ability to keep her life on an even keel.
“She does a good job balancing her team obligations and her friends in JE,” Leatherwood said. “She functions well outside of her team.”
Janet also functions very well within her team. As a sophomore on a remarkably young varsity team, Kim has taken a leadership position in her second year in Yale tennis. She encourages her teammates during practice, but her most important role is one of action.
“She has stepped up as a leader,” Lund said. “It’s her personality to not really be that vocal, but she sets a good example with her work ethic, her competitiveness, and her drive.”
Even if Janet does not outwardly express it in her everyday life, her success speaks for itself and is embodied by her match-time mentality — play to win.