Kiss Her Ace

Meet senior tennis player Alika Peker, who is always serving it up on the court.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cover Image
By The Photo Department

Name: Alika Peker

Grade: Senior

Height: 5’3”

Hair Color: Blonde

Eye Color: Blue

Date of Birth: 3/18/2005

When and how did you start playing tennis? How long have you been on the Lady Lobsters, the Stuyvesant varsity tennis team?

I started playing tennis when I was nine years old, and I’ve been on Stuy’s team since freshman year.

What inspired you to join the tennis team here at Stuyvesant?

Tennis was a huge part of my life, and since we have preseason during the summer, I hoped I could start freshman year with some friends from the team. The plan worked very well—the friend I made during tryouts is now my co-captain and best friend.

Do you prefer to play singles or doubles?

Overall, probably singles. I think all tennis players can agree that doubles is a lot more fun, since it’s less running and more teamwork/bonding with your partner. That being said, I like how you have complete control of how the game goes in singles, and it becomes much more of a mental game than physical. So doubles for having fun, singles for playing my best tennis and feeling successful.

Do you have a most memorable/proud moment with the ​​Lady Lobsters?

I remember in freshman year, when I played third singles, our score against another school was 2-2 and my game was the deciding match. Everyone on the team gathered on my court to cheer me on, and even Mr. Contreras,the principal at that time, came by to watch. It was a super close match, but I was able to focus and get the win. We went to get bubble tea to celebrate our victory, and it was just a great moment in terms of having a strong, supportive community on the team.

What is your strategy for constantly improving yourself (specific workouts, exercises, mentality, etc.)?

I’m usually too lazy to work out, even though I know that it would greatly improve my tennis. I have tennis practice three times a week with my coach, who mostly trains my technique and loves to tell me how slow I run. As far as mentality, the most important thing for tennis is to keep a cool head while playing. You may have heard that tennis is the best sport for anger management. It’s true—sometimes, you just want to fling your racket after making a dumb mistake. However, I’ve gotten better at being in the zone and approaching the game logically rather than emotionally over the years.

How has being captain changed your outlook on the game?

It’s an honor to be captain of the team that has become a second family to me. I find that during my last year at Stuy, I’m less focused on winning and more focused on having fun and making memories. That’s not to say I’ve stopped trying—I’m very competitive and take my first singles position very seriously—but I guess I’ve just realized the wins and losses won’t matter at all a year from now.

Are there any short-term goals you’d like to accomplish in the next months going into season?

Other than beating everyone else, the only other semi-concrete plans my co-captain and I have is to get merch for the team. We can’t decide between sweatpants that say “Kiss My Ace” on the back or “Stop Looking At My (Tennis) Balls” on the front. Maybe we’ll just do both!

Do you have any plans to continue the sport in the future or in college?

Though I’m aware that I probably won’t be a D1 player, I would love to keep playing in college. The harsh truth for any sport is that a Stuy student really can’t compete with someone their age who lives in Florida and is homeschooled and plays for three hours a day. I also haven’t played any tournaments since before COVID, so if any college looks up my tennis ranking, it would be a very misleading number.

Do you have any pre-match superstitions or rituals?

We have a team chant that my co-captain Alex Tsarenkov and I swore we would change when we were freshmen, but for some reason it’s kind of grown on us. Before any match we just gather in a circle as a team and scream “BALLS OF STEEL!”, definitely scaring the opposing team and anyone else who happens to be around us.

Do you have a specific warm-up routine? What is it?

Our team actually does not, unlike most in the Manhattan league. At my private tennis lessons, though, I try to stretch or run a few laps to warm up before playing.

Funniest Teammate? Julia Chernobelsky

Favorite Tennis Player? Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal

Favorite Sports Drink: Gatorade

Hobbies? Watching YouTube videos, playing guitar

Motto to Live By: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” ⎯Wayne Gretzky

Fun Fact: I know the flags, capitals, and locations of 90 percent of the countries in the world.