Drawing on her drive and desire

Picture this: When she’s not studying or playing tennis … or playing soccer … or singing in the choir … Ali Burnside puts her artistic skills to work.

Ali Burnside, whose activities range from athletic to artistic, sets big-picture goal of state tennis trip

Picture this: When she’s not studying or playing tennis … or playing soccer … or singing in the choir … Ali Burnside puts her artistic skills to work.

“I really like to draw and paint,” the multi-faceted Auburn Riverside High senior said. “I’m really good with pen and ink. I draw when I’m stressed out.”

And what does she draw?

“Just anything realistic,” she said.

So if Burnside were to put pen and ink to a tennis tournament bracket showing the route to state, she no doubt would draw herself right into one of the qualifying spots.

And that could be very realistic.

After barely missing out on a trip to the season-ending show last spring, Burnside has adjusted her game and set her focus on a trip to Kennewick this time.

Given the abundance of quality singles players in South Puget Sound League 3A — Auburn’s Sandy Dennett and Breann VanSteenvoort, White River’s Maggie Becker, and Franklin Pierce’s Jodi Owen come immediately to mind – Burnside figures to be well prepared by the time those tournaments roll around next month.

“Tennis is my main game now,” said Burnside, who previously was more into soccer and still plays an indoor version of the game “just for fun and to keep it in my life.”

“I really want to get to state this year.”

Burnside was one victory shy of getting there in 2007. On the final day of the West Central District tournament, struggling through a pulled quad muscle from a match the previous day, she played a winner-to-state, loser-out match against Melissa Nguyen, but fell short, 6-1 6-3.Since then, Burnside has added more of a go-for-it element to her game. Sure, she still loves the baseline. Now, however,, opponents will find her more apt to take it out of park and drive toward the net when the opportunity presents itself.

“:Last year, my game was more just trying to get the ball back,” Burnside said. “I wasn’t as confident in my shots. But I took some lessons and was working on getting over that fear (of coming forward).

“I’m more aggressive this year,” Burnside added. “But it’s more like I do what I can do to win.”

Burnside took up the game 10 years ago at one of the summer camps put on by Riverside coach Bruce Diehl. And after seeing her come as close to state as she did last year, he believe she can be part of that picture come Memorial Day weekend.

“She always gets better at the end of the season,” Diehl said. “And she has incredible stamina — a three-hour match isn’t a big deal to her. Any time it goes longer than an hour and a half, it’s in favor to her.

Burnside is hoping to continue her tennis career at Pacific Lutheran University, which she’s “90 percent sure” of attending. But for now, she’ll keep her mind on the challenges in front of her. That includes, among other things, rematches against Franklin Pierce’s Owen, who was up 6-2, 4-1 when their match was interrupted by rain on March 20 (it was not completed, because Riverside already had clinched the team victory), and against Auburn’s Dennett, who won 6-0, 6-1 on March 27.

“I have to be real focused on the ball,” Burnside said. “If my mind starts (wandering), I start messing up.

“Singles is a big mental part,” she added

For Ali Burnside, that could be case of just picturing herself coming out on top.

And that could be very realistic.