City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Scottsdale’s Next Big Star

Natasha Puehse Is Taking on the Tennis World, One Championship at a Time

The name Puehse may seem familiar. Twins Nic and Tristan were known around the world as the "skateboarding twins." However, it’s their sister, Natasha, who is now making a name for herself as a top-ranked tennis star.

The siblings were born to parents Michael and Caryn while the family was living in Northern California. In 2011, looking for a change of scenery, the family moved to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The twins were giving up skateboarding at the time and all three children decided to try tennis.

For Natasha, it quickly became a passion.

By 2013, the family was again looking to move. They had spent several previous winters in Scottsdale and Carefree, and citing the weather and the “vibe,” they soon settled in Scottsdale—where they’ve been ever since.

Now a graduate student at Grand Canyon University (GCU), Puehse has broken the record for the most career singles wins and doubles wins for GCU’s women’s tennis program in the Division-1 era. She’s been awarded Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Player of the Year twice, was named GCU’s Female Athlete of the Year, is the program’s first nationally ranked player, and has helped lead GCU to two WAC championships with her eyes on a third this final season.

Here, we catch up with the rising star.

First, let’s talk Scottsdale! What did you enjoy most about growing up here?
There are many things I enjoyed about growing up in Scottsdale and still do. Of course, the weather is amazing. There is a lot to do like going to concerts, enjoying great restaurants, with tons of outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding and swimming. Aside from school [Puehse was homeschooled], most of my time was spent on the courts hitting with my brothers and training at academies. This was when I formed some of my close friendships, including my good friend Lauren who I met the very first week I arrived in Arizona.

OK, so tennis … what drew you to the sport?
Our move to Hilton Head Island and my brothers. I was excited for the three of us to play the same sport together. It was an amazing experience to train together and travel to tournaments throughout the Southern U.S.

To be honest, seeing my brothers have so much success in skateboarding, I was determined to take some of that spotlight off of them! After years of them beating me badly on the courts and never playing easy against me, I can confidently say that the storyline has changed. With that said, while they still play tennis, they are both killing it in their careers, which makes me happy. Tristan is a global sales manager for Baja Yucca Company and Nic is a real estate agent focused on luxury properties in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley.

Did you play any other sports growing up?
I danced from 3 to 8 years old in numerous genres—ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop. Shortly after that, I began playing recreation and competitive soccer, which I really loved. Looking back, it was a big factor in fueling my passion for competitive sports and being a part of a team. Playing junior tennis is an individual sport with no coaching. College tennis is quite different as it is a team sport with coaching, which I love. I have been blessed to play under two great coaches during my five years at GCU, Greg Prudhomme and Katarina Adamovic.

Tell us what you do to train/practice now.
We have different training schedules. One for preseason and another for the season. My daily schedule is close to the following:

Weights and conditioning at 6 a.m. (1-2 hours)
Tennis practice (2.5 hours)
Recovery/treatment (1 hour)
Classes/studying (3 hours)

One memorable tennis memory is …
Winning the 2023 Western Athletic Conference Championship in Arlington, Texas.

As a team, we had our fair share of ups and downs during the season. The main goal, however, was to learn and improve from each match with the goal of peaking once we reached the championship. Heading into the WAC tournament, we were ranked fourth. We started off strong the first day, taking out Abilene Christian University.

The next day, our team did a great job of showing our resilience and strength by defeating the No. 1 seed, University of Texas, Arlington who had previously defeated us during the regular season.

The championship match of the tournament against Tarleton University was undoubtedly my favorite college matchup to this point. We had started off rocky, with the other team putting up a strong fight, which put us in a tough situation being behind three points to one. In college tennis, we play singles and doubles matches. It is a best of seven points, with each singles match counting for one point and the best of three doubles matches for the doubles point. We were down 1-3. One more singles loss and it would have been over.

With our backs against the wall, we locked in not only our tennis but also our energy individually and as a team. We all knew this was the moment we had been working toward for the entire year.

In the end, our grit helped us come back to win the match 4-3 and the 2023 WAC Championship. The emotions and feelings I experienced were incredible. Our coach, Kat Adamovic, was instrumental in keeping us all focused and motivated from the start of the season until the last point of this championship. She took over the program in 2022 and has done a great job helping our entire team realize our highest potential.

You play for GCU. How did that come to be?

When I completed my high school education, I was undecided if college was the route I wanted to take. I had received quite a few athletic scholarship offers from D1 schools around the country. One day, my dad received a call from GCU’s head coach Greg Prudhomme asking him if he, my mom, and I would meet with him and tour the campus. He agreed and we did just that.

It ended up being a six-hour visit. The following day, we were scheduled for an official visit at the University of Boulder. As we left the GCU campus, I turned to my parents and told them we did not have to make the visit to the University of Boulder. At that moment, I had made up my mind and realized GCU was the perfect fit for me. It was a private Christian university, a full scholarship offer, and I was confident I would be able to help take the tennis program to the next level, which was winning a WAC Championship. I am very thankful that Coach Greg had reached out to me.

What else makes you as happy as playing tennis?

I am not sure there is anything that makes me quite as happy as I am when I am on the tennis court competing, but there are many things that I love and appreciate. I love spending time with my family and closest friends. It is something I cherish and am grateful for. I also enjoy attending concerts, trying new fitness classes, singing karaoke, photo shoots with friends, and traveling! My very close friend and former teammate Mathilde and I had a blast traveling to Malta this summer with my family and then again to Paris and Monaco a few weeks later.

When you aren’t playing tennis or studying, we’d find you …
To be honest, when I am not training, practicing, competing, and studying, I am probably just relaxing or hanging out with friends. While the life of a D1 athlete is a great life experience, it is demanding and challenging. We get no passes from our professors, so when we are traveling, we are studying and doing our assignments.

What are you studying in school?
This past May, I received my B.A. in entrepreneurial studies. I am currently working on my Master of Science in leadership and am on track to graduate this summer.

One thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I would have tosay that would be singing karaoke and just singing in general. I love singing and music. If I could choose my dream job, it would be to be a professional singer. Who knows? Maybe one day I will take singing lessons again.

What are your hopes for the future?
As I near the end of my college studies and competitive tennis, I am very thankful for my family, friends, coaches, and teammates. I hope to bring everything that I have learned from both the classroom and on the court and apply it toward whatever career I choose. Ultimately, I would like to start my own business and be my own boss.