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Original Issue

Krista Hardebeck

15 / TENNIS PLAYER /Santa Ana, Calif.

Achievements: Currently ranked No. 1 nationally in the girls' under-18 singles, she won the 18s at the 2009 USTA National Clay Court Championships. In May she reached the quarters of a USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Carson, Calif., her best finish at a pro event.

First Steps: Her mother, Anne, let four-year-old Krista tag along when older sister, Lisa, had lessons. "Lisa is a lot more intense, and Krista is so easygoing," she says, "so I didn't think [Krista] would be that competitive when she got older." She was wrong.

Evokes: Kim Clijsters, in her hustle and ability to return just about every shot, and in her personality. "[Krista] always loved the way Kim fights really hard but is extremely friendly to everybody," says Anne. "That's how Krista is. As soon as she gets off the court, she's total buddies with everyone."

Coach's Comment: "She's very mentally strong," says coach Robert Van't Hof, director of tennis at the Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach, Calif. "She doesn't get rattled. She's a hustler, and she frustrates her opponents because she can [hit] everything back."

What's Next: Once she turns 16, in September, Krista will be eligible to play in 12 pro events a year. "Right now," she says, "I'm trying to build up my WTA rankings so that in a few years I can start qualifying for majors."