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Kan-do attitude

Canfield junior optimistic about this trip to state

Staff photo / John Vargo Canfield’s Anna Kan returns to the Division I state tennis tournament this Friday.

CANFIELD — Pat Pavlansky begins to talk as three of us are at a circular table inside the athletic department at Canfield High School.

It’s just past 3 o’clock on a Tuesday.

He’s there with junior tennis player Anna Kan, whose first named is pronounced On-yah. Learn something new every day. It’s Russian in origin.

The Canfield junior is getting prepared for her second straight tennis tournament in Mason, just outside of Cincinnati.

“She’s a nice Russian. She said Russians are mean about making calls and stuff,” Pavlansky said

Kan rolls her eyes and smiles.

“Even in the match a couple of times in the (district) finals on Saturday, they were both early on, those two shots were out and played them,” Pavlansky said. “She looked at herself, ‘What am I doing?’ She’s nice. She makes sure she doesn’t cheat somebody. We love her because of that. She’s a wonderful player.

“She does get excited afterward. She does smile. She does realize it’s a wonderful accomplishment. At the same time, she wants more. That’s why she’s so good. She wants to be better. She wants to do well. She wants to please herself. She wants to represent Canfield at our district in a positive way. I think she’s going to do that on Friday.”

Focused. That’s a good way to describe Kan as she faces Cincinnati St. Ursula’s Elizabeth Pendergast in a first-round match Friday morning at the Linder Family Tennis Center.

Professionals like Serena Williams have played these courts. That initial excitement has worn off since being there last year, where she lost in a first-round match.

Repeating that in 2019. Kan doesn’t want that to happen.

“Last year I was fortunate enough to play on the center court for my match,” she said. “It’s huge when you’re playing on the court. Then you also look up and it’s all blue because no one is sitting there but your family in one section. It looks even bigger because it’s all blueness. You toss the ball up for your serve. Instead of seeing blue sky, you see blue chairs. It’s a little different. It’s still a tennis court.”

Kan was a six seed last season. This year, it’s a No. 2 seed after being swept by North Canton Hoover’s Laurel Utterback in Saturday’s district final.

“I get excited after the fact,” Kan said. “It’s a huge deal that I got second. I wasn’t thinking about that. I thinking that I played bad in my match. That kind of took over. I get excited. Give me a day or two to register it to get excited. At the time, I kind of focus on the bad things, which isn’t good, but I do it.”

That’s her focus, a very cerebral player.

Pavlansky knows it is his job to manage the highs and lows of Kan. She’s one of the best players to come out of Canfield. Finishing as district runner-up is a high honor around these parts.

“We talked about telling her some nice jokes during changeovers, makes sure she laughs like she’s doing now,” Pavlansky said. “Just get her mind off of things. She’s such a good tennis player. She knows the corrections she has to make. She understands how she’s supposed to play better. She understands all of that. We don’t need to tell her much about those things unless something is unbelievably obvious, which doesn’t happen very often.

“Just try to calm her down so she can be herself and be the good tennis player that she is.”

That’s what Kan wants to accomplish this weekend in Mason.

“I think this time around it’s like, ‘You were here before. Go and do better than last year,'” Kan said.