RS Senior from Cincinnati, OH
High School: Cincinnati Country Day
Racquet: Babolat Pure Aero
NW: Today’s a match day (UK). What does the team typically do leading up to tip-off?
Danielle Wolf: Depending on when the match is…we usually get there about three hours prior. Hit once before we play. Take an hour to eat and prepare for the match with the coaches. Then we’ll go out about an hour before it starts and warm up again.
NW: Do you have any pre-match superstitions?
DW: Hmm. I don’t know if I’d call it a superstition, but I foam roll a lot on match day. Like an excessive amount (laughs). I also re-grip all my racquets before I play. Those are the two main things.
NW: You’re the only senior on this team. How has that experience been?
DW: And I’m a fifth year senior…so like a super senior (laughs). No, it’s good. A lot of the girls kinda look up to me. I get to be that sorta role model for the younger girls on the team. I like setting the example and being that go to person for them. It’s a real honor and I love this team.
NW: You’ve been around the program for a few years now. Have you helped play a role in the recruitment of some of your current teammates? If so, do you enjoy that aspect? I’ve always felt tennis coaches lean on the players a little when it comes to bringing talent in. Thoughts?
DW: I agree. It’s a very different sport in my opinion. Tennis is so much about the chemistry of the team….the environment at practice and matches is really important. Coaches ask the players for their advice and stuff, so it’s fun being able to help. Making sure we bring in girls that we think will be a good fit for us.
NW: Is this the best tennis you’ve played in your career?
DW: Yeah, I think so…I saved it for my last year. I worked a lot with my dad and former Ohio State player BJ Monroe over the winter break and that helped a lot. Also, throughout the summer I hit with my dad a ton and I was able to hit with JJ (Wolf – Danielle’s younger brother). I’ve just been trying to get everything possible out of my last college tennis year.
NW: That’s awesome. Does your Dad still hit a good ball?
DW: I mean he hit incredible. I hit with him indoors once at Camargo over break….and it was the first time he had hit since he his transplants and stuff. I didn’t know it until one of the pros walked up and asked him if he’d been hitting with us after watching. He said it was his first time. I’m like, “Are you serious?! You’ve missed 0 balls and haven’t gotten one drink in that time!” It was crazy (laughs). He’s very unique.
NW: What did you guys focus on in your practice sessions?
DW: My dad and I worked on my backhand a lot in the off-season. I think that gave me a bunch of confidence early in the year and I’ve just kinda rolled with it.
NW: What changed?
DW: I kinda just believe it (backhand) in more (than I used to). I’ve always had a grind backhand, but now if someone hits it to my backhand…I’m like, “Okay great.” It’s not, “Oh, I should try to get a forehand.” I’ve played a lot more offense this year and I’m playing on my terms. If they (opponents) can do that better…then fine, but I’m trying to move forward…get to the net…finish. I’m trying to kinda play more like my brother has been I guess (laughs). Just using my power and strength to get them on their heels.
NW: You just hit your top UTR rating ever? Was it like 10.9?
DW: (jokingly) ugh. Actually, the day after that was released I reached my highest. 11.1 That’s the highest I’ve ever been.
NW: You clinched against #5 Duke in an epic 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (5) win. (OSU currently #5 was ranked #12 at the time) Pretty cool memory. Finishing it off with that scoreboard pressure.
DW: It was an awesome experience. Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure in that moment, so if I could pick someone to be in that position I would’ve picked myself. So I’m glad I was and able to come through. The scoreboard plays a huge role in that situation, which makes it so much harder. Our court 5 had 9 match points and it was hard for me not to look over, but finally I just zoned in on my court and tried to finish it off. And I did. It was the best feeling ever that I could do it for my team.
NW: JJ is on tour now. Traveling a bunch it seems. And played a couple Challengers in Columbus. Do you guys keep tabs on each other’s matches?
DW: Yes, for sure. We talk every day. I text him good luck before matches. Whenever he’s not playing a tournament and he can be there (in attendance), he will. He obviously travels so much, but after he or I lose we talk and try to help one another. If we win we get excited together. So, it’s a great system. He’s still based here in Columbus, so whenever we get to hang out we do…and tennis is always the main topic.
NW: Did you and JJ always wish to play at the same school in college?
DW: I actually always wanted to play at Ohio State. That was my school growing up. It didn’t work out the first time around…they had a ton of players and there wasn’t really room on the team.
NW: You left Indiana for OSU after your freshman year. What went into that decision?
DW: I always had it in the back of my head that I wanted to be closer to my family. My dad was doing his treatments at the James Hospital. Also, when I was growing up my dad coached the McCarthy brothers that played there and I always was just in love with the school since.
NW: Why did you switch racquets in college? (Head Speed to Babolat Pure Aero)
DW: The Head racquet I was using before was actually heavier than everyone’s racquet on the men and women’s team besides JJ (laughs). Our coaches hit with it and they were complaining their arms were sore after. I had some wrist issues at the time, so they made me switch. The Babolat was a lot lighter and my wrist issues just sort of went away.
NW: Did the lighter stick help add a little extra pop on the serve?
DW: My dad would say that I sort of need to do that more (laughs).
NW: Go bigger?
DW: Yessss. He’s like ya gotta pop it!
NW: How do you enjoy playing doubles in college?
DW: Omg. I love doubles. It’s so much fun. The team aspect of it is awesome. It’s such a different game than singles. I love getting hit at if that makes sense. The reflex part of it is so intense and different. You can get so into it and pump up your teammates. It’s great. A lot of athleticism is required too. You’re fighting balls off at the net and that’s like my favorite part.
NW: Have you given any thought to life after the season? Will you continue playing? Can you picture yourself not being in sports?
DW: That’s a tough question. I think I’ll play a little for sure. I’m not ready for it to be over, yet. Why let my career end when this is like the best I’ve played in my life, you know? So, we’ll see what happens. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to be uninvolved in sports.