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Aug 7, 2017 2:15 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Taylor Diffley Climbs Her Way To Success On Tennis Court

Taylor Diffley reaches towards her forehand. UNIVERSITY OF MARY WASHINGTON ATHLETICS
Aug 7, 2017 3:14 PM

Taylor Diffley’s tennis career has been a continuous climb through higher levels of competition, and this past season, her final at the collegiate level, she reached her peak.

Diffley’s journey began in seventh grade when she made the varsity girls tennis team at Hampton Bays High School. Securing the second singles position, she eventually earned All-League and All-County honors by the time she wrapped up her first season.

Even though Diffley shined in her first varsity season on the court, she didn’t feel the varsity competition was up to her high standards. She decided, even after seeing success at a young age, to hang up the purple and white jersey for good.

Diffley wanted to push herself to be the best athlete she could be, so she started some intense training at Robbie Wagner’s Tournament Training Center in Glen Cove three to five times a week until she was 18 years old and ready to move on to college. In the meantime, and in the absence of varsity tennis, Diffley competed year round in both state and national competitions through the United States Tennis Association. The national body of the sport gives junior players the opportunity to compete against a wide variety of other players through various tournaments at an extremely high level of play.

To prep for the tournaments and competition within the USTA, Diffley also hired a personal tennis coach, Parsa Samaii. After 10 years of prepping her to be the best athlete she could be, Diffley said Samaii still remains a constant in her life, encouraging her throughout her college career.

“Parsa was not only my tennis coach but also my life coach, mentor, and friend. Parsa has helped me grow so much over the years as both a player and a person,” she said of their relationship.

Diffley’s decisions early on in her tennis career ultimately paid off. After graduating Hampton Bays in 2012, Diffley headed to Kenyon College in Ohio, where she competed at the Division III level on the women’s tennis team. In her time at Kenyon, Diffley was an Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Doubles Finalist in 2014 as well as First Team All-Conference in singles and doubles.

But after her sophomore season, Diffley once again began questioning if there was more for her elsewhere.

“I realized the level of tennis wasn’t as great as I’d expected, and I’d been training to compete at a high collegiate level my entire life, so I decided transferring to a higher nationally-ranked program would help me reach my collegiate tennis goals,” she said.

In the fall of 2015, Diffley transferred to the University of Mary Washington, a higher nationally ranked Division III program, in Virginia where she played under head coach Patrick Catullo.

“I saw Diffley play as a freshman [at Kenyon College] and knew how talented she was,” Catullo said. When Diffley solidified her transfer, Catullo claimed he was looking forward to having her become a part of the team.

“She immediately made contributions for the Eagles in both singles and doubles and continued to improve,” he said.

Diffley describes herself as an “unconventional” player. She is crafty on the court and relies on her drop-shot as well as her slice, which, when timed perfectly, can amount in great success, or, at the very least, putting her opponents on their heels.

Despite her tricky shots, Diffley believes her biggest asset is her competitive drive and fight on the court.

“Ever since I was little I believed I could take down any girl in the nation,” Diffley said. “If someone was going to beat me they were going to have to rip it out of my hands.”

Diffley says that attitude is the main reason she has been so successful throughout her tennis career. She claims she has beaten numerous girls she had no business beating because of her self-confidence.

Her mental awareness and strength on the court inspired her to follow a career in sports psychology. She said her ideal job would be helping athletes get through the mental struggles of their sport. One day Diffley hopes to aid the athletes at the highest level Division I programs.

Diffley graduated this past spring with a 3.1 GPA in sports psychology as well as earning a Psi Chi Symposium Research Presentation Award. The psychology award was granted to Diffley after she conducted research as part of a team within their senior seminar course on the dark triad, a psychology subject that focuses on three subjects: psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. The point of their research was to see if there were any correlations amongst the dark triad between cyber bullying, cyber trolling, and motivations for using social media.

Diffley wrapped up her college career this past spring on her trip to Champions Tennis Club in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the NCAA Division III women’s doubles championship held in May. Despite falling in the opening round with her partner, Kait Brogan—together they were the top doubles pair at Mary Washington—they earned All-American honors after being ranked 10th in the nation.

Diffley, now 23, finished her career as a First Team All-Capital Athletic Conference selection in 2013, 2014 and 2016 and was an Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional doubles finalist in both 2014 and 2016, to go along with this year’s All-American selection in doubles.

“My next move is graduate school and to begin assistant coaching,” she said. “I accepted an offer to be the graduate assistant for the men’s and women’s tennis teams at St. Lawrence University.”

While she is assistant coaching for both the men’s and women’s teams, Diffley will be earning her masters in counseling and human development. She is eager to begin coaching and following her passion for sports psychology, and St. Lawrence University is just the first step in Diffley’s continued climb toward success.

“Tennis will always be a part of my life,” she said. “Having committed the past 16 years to this sport, it’s not just something I can to let go of. I fell in love with this sport and want to continue playing for as long as I can.”

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