Among the names in the U.S. tennis team for the Maccabiah announced last week one can find Jennie Shulkin, Pennsylvania’s five-time high school State champion (four times as the leading singles player in the team competition and once in individual doubles). The player, who will turn 20 next month, is already a Maccabiah gold medalist, in squash, with the U.S. junior team in 2009. Being nationally ranked in both squash and tennis, and despite that a shoulder injury made her miss the trials for the tennis team for that year, she was still able to seize the opportunity to participate in the games.
The University of Pennsylvania sophomore started playing tennis almost as soon as she could pronounce “tennis” — at two and a half years old. Being ranked #32 nationally in squash entering Penn, she played on the varsity squash team, but now has gone back to her first love: “My dream has always been to represent the U.S. in tennis at the Maccabiah,” she explained in an exclusive interview with the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.
“Playing tennis has always felt natural to me, like it’s what I’m supposed to do”, she said. “I feel at home on the court. I was never planning on becoming a professional, but I see it as a life-long sport.” At Penn she studies Communications and Public Service, and afterwards she wants to go to law school.
A conservative Jew, Shulkin says that her ethno-religious belonging affects her “identity, decisions and everyday life. I am very proud of being Jewish.”
Shulkin wins the Pennsylvania State trophy in her senior year, 2011
“Since joining the squash team I have not played competitive tennis regularly, but in the try-outs I held my own against players from Division 1 tennis teams, and I feel ready to compete in the games”, she indicated.
I don’t like being overly confident, but I really want to help the U.S. team bring home the gold. I’m also excited to play competitively again, and to see my friends from all over the world that I’ve met last time. My family is also very supportive of my participation. My mom, dad and brother came with me four years ago, and this time my grandparents will join us too.
U.S. tennis team for the tournament:
- Joshua Albert from Manhattan Beach, CA — University of California Davis;
- Stephanie Falcon from Marietta, GA — University of North Carolina Greenboro;
- Max Franklin from Mercer Island, WA — Washington University;
- David Holiner from Dallas, TX — University of Texas Austin;
- Michael Laser from Glencoe, IL — Dartmouth College;
- Emma Levy from Princeton Junction, NJ — Tulane University;
- Jose Lieberman from Los Angeles, CA — University of Miami;
- Amira Massi from Los Angeles, CA — California State Northridge;
- Jenna Nurik from Roswell, GA — University of Tennessee;
- Sara Perelman from Pittsburgh, PA — Cornell University;
- Adam Reinhart from Chicago, IL — DePaul University;
- and Jennie Shulkin from Gladwyne, PA — University of Pennsylvania.