Entering this weekend’s Oracle ITA Masters tournament, Irvine's Maxi Duncan is riding quite a wave of success. The 18-year old senior has reeled off 16 consecutive match wins and three tournament titles, including two regional ITA Fall Circuit events, and a UTR professional event sandwiched in between.
An athletic lefty, Duncan and her father Gerald Duncan said the reason Maxi’s game has vastly improved over the past year was a move to Glendale, Ariz., where she has trained with her father on a private residence court.
“I’ve really improved my stamina and my fitness and also my serve out wide, which is something I didn’t have before the summer,” Maxi said.
Last weekend at an ITA Fall Circuit event held at Weil Academy in Ojai, Duncan avenged two previous losses to rival Maya Pitts beating the 2019 Girls’ 18s SoCal Junior Sectionals singles champion in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.
“Training in the heat of Arizona has really helped her,” Gerald said. “We had days of 117, 118 degree temperatures. Training in those tough conditions will only help her when we get back to the regular Southern California climate.”
Maxi added: “Training in the heat has been tough. But I know once I get back to nicer weather I will just be more mentally and physically prepared to last longer.”
One of the hottest college tennis recruits in the nation with Blue Chip status on TennisRecruiting.net, Maxi is undecided about which college she will attend, although Gerald says she can choose any school in the nation to attend.
Because of COVID, both father and daughter said taking a gap year to play the pro events is still being considered.
Maxi – who once as a young child appeared in a Target commercial – recently put her acting skills to use as she was cast as a young tennis player in a commercial for the Apple Series 6 Watch.
It was filmed on a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles with what Gerald estimated was 80 cameras. “We didn’t know what it was going to look like until after it was shot and aired,” Gerald said. “We have been surprised they’ve been showing it so much. I’ve been getting so many texts and calls about it. It’s been crazy.”
Maxi said she auditioned for the part, and that although it was nerve-wracking, she had fun filming the spot. “I have always loved acting, but this was because of my tennis and it happened to work out,” she said.
Maxi can’t wait to get back to regular pro level tournaments so she can put all the training and practice work from the steamy Arizona desert heat to use, and slowly see her world ranking rise.
“There are a couple of tournaments we are thinking about playing as things start to open up,” she said. “Hopefully, as we get into the new year there will be more and more to play.”
The Oracle ITA Masters begins Friday at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. Duncan meets USC Trojan Angela Kulikov in the opening round.