Carrie Crisell was not even going to try out for the Marina High School girls’ tennis team her sophomore year because she didn’t think the competition would be tough enough. After all, Crisell was already playing some of the top teen-aged players in the nation on the juniors circuit.
But Bonnie Stormont, Marina coach, appealed to Crisell’s sense of school loyalty and convinced her to join the team. And, not surprisingly, Crisell went on to be named The Times’ Orange County Girls’ Player of the Year.
This summer, Crisell faced a similar dilemma. She had serious thoughts about turning pro, but, apparently, will be back playing No. 1 singles for the Vikings when Sunset League begins later this month.
The 16-year-old senior got a taste of what life on the tour was like this summer when she spent four weeks on the road playing in major tournaments from San Jose to St. Petersburg, Fla. Yet, despite winning the national hard-court singles title in the 16-and-under division, Crisell thinks the competition on the pros tour may be too stiff, and that’s the reason she’s staying at Marina.
“I don’t know about turning pro,” said Crisell. “I guess if you were as good as Martina (Navratilova) or Chris Evert, it’d be one thing. They go out there and it looks like they’re having fun. But if you were (ranked) in the 100’s, I don’t know how much fun it would be. I just can’t see myself right now being a pro.”
Another reason that compelled her to stay at Marina was the fact she would have to spent so much time away from her family on the pro tour. While she traveled with her father, Lee, to many of the tournaments, Crisell admitted she missed being with the rest of her family.
“I was gone to the hard courts (in San Jose) for a week,” she said. “I came home for about a day and a half and then I went to the clay courts (in St. Petersburg), came home for about four days and then went to the nationals (in Charleston, W. Va.).
“I was gone for almost four weeks,” Crisell added. “I don’t know if I’d want to do that for a living, it’s kind of hard being away that long. I get homesick not having my parents there.”
Crisell’s decision to postpone a pro career comes as welcome news to her mother, Mike . The Crisells are a close-knit family and Mike Crisell wants to keep it that way.
“We are a real close family, we try to do things together,” she explained. “I don’t think I’d be too hot on the idea of her going out on the tour. Although she’s very mature . . . she’s still young. One of us (parents) would have to go with her and we wouldn’t want to break up the family unit we have.”
Crisell said she is strongly considering continuing her tennis interest in college, preferably one close to home. She has already been offered a scholarship to Brigham Young University and with a grade-point average of 4.25 (she also gets A’s in her honors classes), she will no doubt be able to attend the college of her choice next fall.
“Carrie’s life centers around her tennis and her school work,” said Stormont. “She really concentrates on her school work, which is refreshing.”
It’s a wonder that Crisell has any time at all for her studies with the rigorous schedule she maintains. In addition to practicing or playing matches for three hours every day after school, she attends an aerobics class every day and works out on Nautilus weight machines every other day.
But don’t get the idea that Crisell is another tennis “brat” who does nothing but sleep and eat tennis. She is quick to point out that she attends Marina’s varsity football games and has a social life.
“I know some players who are totally into tennis,” she said. “They only do homework and play tennis, they never get out of the house,” Crisell said. “I’d feel like I was missing something if my parents made me play tennis, do my homework and go to bed. But they let me do things, they’re pretty good about that.”
Crisell’s dedication and hard work have paid off. In two years she has yet to lose a league match, advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section individual championships as a sophomore and to the finals last year, and has twice been named to The Times’ All-County team.