Nicolet National Bank Senior Spotlight: Mia Fairbairn and Anna Harmann – De Pere girls’ tennis
By Meg Domnick
DE PERE – De Pere High School’s Mia Fairbairn and Anna Harmann have been friends since they were 3 years old.
They said their friendship is a major part of their tennis doubles partnership.
Despite being friends since elementary school, this is the first season the two have played together.
Fairbairn and Harmann said they attribute their good communication and years of knowing one another to their success on the court.
Mia, the daughter of Amy and Steve Fairbairn, has an older sister and an older brother.
“I also have a dog, Finley,” she said. “He’s very energetic.”
Anna, the daughter of Amy and John Harmann, has a younger brother and a dog, Ruby.
Despite playing an on-the-court sport, Fairbairn said it would be cool to be a dolphin because then she could be in the water all the time.
Harmann is interested in knowing what it’s like to live in Antarctica, and because of this, she said she’d like to be a penguin.
The two also follow women’s professional tennis.
“My favorite player is Coco Gauff,” Fairbairn said.
Harmann’s favorite player is Naomi Osaka.
“She and I have similar characteristics that make us similar players on the court,” she said. “I often look to Osaka for inspiration.”
Before a match, the two get together and go through the team mantra.
“A mantra is a series of phrases that help us get through our match,” Fairbairn said. “We communicate about the opposing player(s), and a plan is discussed on how we plan to play that match.”
Harmann says for her, she goes silent about 10 minutes before a match.
“The nerves set in,” she said. “We communicate about the plan and what each needs to do in the match.”
In addition to playing tennis, Fairbairn is part of the Key Club.
Harmann is also in the Key Club, as well as Future Business Leaders of America and the Amnesty Club.
“I plan to attend a four-year school after graduation,” Fairbairn said. “I’m interested in real estate.”
Harmann also plans to attend college.
“I’m thinking the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse or UW-Madison to study accounting or marketing,” she said.
Fairbairn said her favorite memory as an athlete is when she and her doubles partner won their sectional last year.
“I remember being so full of adrenaline, and it was such a crazy feeling,” she said. “I’ll never forget it.”
Harmann said her favorite memory is when she and her doubles partner took fourth in their sectional last season.
The two ended up getting a special qualifier spot at state.
“It was exciting and unexpected,” she said. “Even though we didn’t get first place, our hard work paid off.”
Fairbairn, who describes herself as generous, outgoing and witty, has a memorable most embarrassing moment.
“I was in the fourth grade on a family trip to Arizona,” she said. “My family was at the Grand Canyon, and I puked. A bird came and ate the puke. My family still likes to bring this story up.”
Harmann, who describes herself as caring, outgoing and sympathetic, also said her most embarrassing moment occurred on a family trip.
“I was 7 years old,” she said. “I was walking around, not paying attention to where I was going and ended up walking into a pool. It’s a story my parents tell everyone. It’s so embarrassing because it’s something I could still do today.”
When not on the court, Fairbairn enjoys hanging out with her friends and family.
Harmann enjoys skiing in the winter, having dinner with her family, family movie nights, spending time with friends and shopping.
The two admit the scoring in tennis can be complicated for some, especially those that don’t play the game.
They said a unique trait in high school tennis is there is no scoreboard, and it’s up to the players to know and remember the score.
Sometimes, they said, particularly those on the junior varsity team, make mistakes with the scoring.
Fairbairn’s biggest role model is her parents.
“They are both humble and love their life, putting forward as much as they can,” she said. “That’s something I admire about them. They are optimistic and root me on toward my goals.”
Harmann’s biggest role model is her late grandpa.
“He’s one of my biggest role models because he was diagnosed with polio at age 6,” she said. “He had difficulties walking but never let those struggles get in the way of living his life. I learned the motto, ‘If you put your mind to it, you can do it,’ from him.”
Fairbairn has dealt with her own physical difficulties in life.
“I was born with a genetic condition where my hands were in a fist and my feet were facing upward at birth,” she said. “I endured several surgeries on my hands and feet to correct them. Both of my pinkies are bent, and I’m unable to fully straighten them.”
Their advice to young tennis players is to “never give up.”
“There were many times I didn’t want to go to practice or my lesson, but it’s important to give your all because you could end up somewhere you would never expect,” Fairbairn said.
The two attribute their never-give-up attitudes to being the No. 1 doubles partnership this season.
“I never thought I would be playing at No. 1 doubles,” Harmann said. “It’s crazy to me because our team was competitive. It’s a blessing, and a great way to end my senior year.”
Their hard work paid off when the two received a special qualifier to the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament.
With a record of 12-12 this season, they play Thursday, Oct. 14, against a team from Badger in their opening match.
Visit wiaawi.com for results.
Sports editor’s note: To read last week’s Nicolet National Bank Senior Spotlight on Bay Port swimmer Sydney Aird, CLICK HERE.