Saturday, October 21, 2023 | 11:01 am
The first word North Hills tennis coach Amy Myers uses to describe Ellie Kim is “put together.” And this is certainly an important attribute for the various activities that Kim has in her life and will have in the future.
The Indians sophomore has been a standout on the tennis court, reaching the WPIAL Class 3A postseason in her first two years as a high schooler.
“When she came in as a freshman, I knew she was incredibly talented,” Myers said. “She put in a lot of work. But I have never met a player as calm as Eli. She was playing with some of the toughest competitors I’ve ever seen and she was able to compete with them.”
Kim put in a lot of work in the offseason between her freshman and sophomore seasons, playing with and against players from around the region — including some she would face in WPIAL competition this fall. Because of this progress, Myers named Kim a team captain as only a sophomore.
“That’s her leadership,” Myers said. “She’s always there for the other players, even though we know her skill level is a bit more elite at the moment. Her improvements in one year have been incredible.”
“It’s been really fun over the summer,” added Kim, who is tasked with starting practices and getting the team through sectionals while also helping out in other leadership roles. “We had a bunch of clinics that I helped run over the summer. But the team works very well and we all have fun. So it wasn’t super stressful.”
As a freshman, Kim reached the WPIAL tournament in singles and doubles. She finished third in Section 2-3A and was ranked No. 14 in the district after the singles season. A year later, another third-place finish in the section led to a higher seeding in the WPIAL playoffs. She was seeded 10th and defeated Franklin Regional senior Ellen Liu 10-3 to reach the quarterfinals.
“Getting the win, I just felt proud because it was better than last year,” she said. “I was proud to improve.”
Kim then fell in a tough match to Pine-Richland freshman and No. 2 seed Caroline Prisk, 10-5.
“She really showed herself,” Myers said. “She showed people who Ellie Kim is. And then she stayed and showed support to all the other contestants. Overall, she’s a great kid.”
Myers is impressed with the development of Kim’s serves and often asks Kim to instruct his teammates on how to perform better from the line. But Kim sees areas of his game to develop before his junior year.
“I definitely want to improve my volley and improve my strength in general,” she said. “I want to hit harder.”
Tennis is a family game for Kim. Her brother, Josh, is the top men’s player at North Hills, and the two siblings have a friendly rivalry on the court that Myers enjoys watching. Both of her parents played in high school. Her sister also plays tennis at North Hills. The cool demeanor of her game is something that comes directly from her family.
“That’s probably my mom,” said Kim, who picked up a racket at age 5 and started training at age 9, with a laugh. .”
Off the court, that composure comes in handy. Kim has been playing the cello since the age of 8 and currently performs with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. This adds a lot to the already full range of activities that includes FBLA Club, Science Club, and other activities and fairs that Kim helps run.
“It’s a lot of time management,” she said. “I have to be really proactive in everything I do and try to be the best at everything I do. It just takes a lot of time, but my parents help me a lot with it.”
Kim wants to pursue a career in engineering and will ultimately make her college choices based on that. An excellent student, she wants to continue to pursue music and tennis in some capacity while in college, which is still a bit far for the sophomore.
But before that moment comes, she wants to continue to embrace her high school years with her friends at North Hills, who benefited from the improved playing surface the school district installed last year. This $549,000 project has led to greater participation in the program, and Kim hopes it will lead to brighter days for the program as a whole.
“It will be sad because we have some seniors graduating this year, but it was good to get some juniors out and play on the team,” Kim said. “I hope next year will be even better.
Tags: North Hills