Jesse: Why did you choose the game of basketball?
Tessa: I didn’t really have a choice… my whole family played so it kind of just happened. I actually avoided playing basketball for as a long as possible because I thought I was going to be a netball star instead and didn’t want the pressure of being as good as my family members. But my friends mums who were the schools basketball coaches forced me to play, and I ended up loving it.
Jesse: What schools have you attended, and what are your achievements and highlights?
Tessa: Christchurch Girls’ High School and then California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
At high school my team won nationals when I was year 13, and we also came second at volleyball nationals. I was also awarded MVP for both those tournaments.
At CSUN, winning our conference tournament my freshman and senior year and going to the NCAA both those years was absolutely amazing and such and awesome experience.
But I’d say the highlight throughout my career playing at both high school and University was the teammates and coaches and people I got to meet and all the experiences and things I learnt.
Jesse: You are a role model for our younger generation, what advice do you have for them getting into basketball?
Tessa: It’s something my brother always went on and on about and I wish I had listened to him more. But being good or even the best at basketball in NZ doesn’t mean much… and you should never get complacent. Even if you’re the best here, there are 100s your age in USA (and around the world) that are just as good and if not better. So don’t measure yourself by how good you are here, always work to get better!!
Jesse: What has been the ultimate highlight in your basketball career?
Tessa: Representing New Zealand. It has always been a dream of mine, especially seeing the pictures of my mum and sister both playing for the Tall Fern’s and watching my sister play at the Olympics.
Jesse: Who has been your biggest influence in basketball and why?
Tessa: My family. My mum because she was ALWAYS there. At every game, every tournament, everything she was there. My sister because she was who I watched and wanted to be like. And my brother because although I thought he was such an a**hole at the time, he pushed me more than anyone and always held me at a way higher standard.
Jesse: How do you mentally prepare yourself for a game?
Tessa: I am pretty chill when it comes to games. I don’t like to get too in my head about it or I start over thinking and stress myself out. I like to listen to music and joke around with my teammates.
Jesse: What’s it like playing for the Tall Ferns?
Tessa: It’s such an honour to put that uniform on. The Tall Ferns have such a proud history, such amazing strong woman have represented our country. So to be able to be in the same league as them is so humbling. Basketball has always been a little sister to Netball, so we have never been afforded the same luxuries. But the accomplishments of the Tall Fern’s on an international stage is pretty awesome and it’s only getting better!!
Jesse: Who is the ultimate women’s basketball player in New Zealand?
Tessa: Hmmmm, that’s a tricky one. I don’t want to disrespect anyone because there have been a lot of incredible players, so I’m going to say the best one I’ve ever played with is Micaela Cocks. She is the ultimate teammate, athlete, competitor and person. In another life I’d love to have the mentality of Mic, she’s honestly out of this world.
Jesse: Who is the ultimate men’s basketball player in New Zealand?
Tessa: Another tricky one. I think if we are talking ultimate player that encompasses everything then it has to be Mika Vukona. I feel like I don’t need to explain that one!
Jesse: In terms of your playing career, what would be the pinnacle for you?
Tessa: Going to the Olympics, 100%. That’s always been my biggest dream.
Jesse: Whats the best pair of basketball shoes you have owned?
Tessa: Curry’s. They are so comfortable, I don’t think I can ever go back to anything else. But I’d be lying if I said they were my favourite. My Kobe 6s were my favourite.
Jesse: Who has been the hardest person to guard in your career and why?
Tessa: Any Guard I’m too slow haha. But probably Penina. We always have a good battle, and most of the time we are just talking smack to each other it’s hard not to laugh.
Jesse: Who is the greatest player of all time and why?
Tessa: If we are talking accolades and importance to the game Sheryl Swoopes (if you don’t know who she is google her). But I was too young to witness her, so for me it’s be Diana Taurasi or Sue Bird. They are both legends.
Jesse: If you had one piece of advice for your younger self, what would it be?
Tessa: Never be complacent, always strive to be better. You’ll never regret working harder and sacrificing things to achieve your goals. It’s all worth it.
Jesse: Can basketball in New Zealand be improved?
Tessa: There is always room for improvement for everything. I think basketball is just now starting to get the recognition it deserves. And I’m excited to watch this game grow and for the country to fall in love with it.
Jesse: What is your favorite food?
Tessa: Everything I’ve ever eaten in Japan. And anything Mexican also has my heart.
Jesse: Best basketball movie or book of all time?
Tessa: I’m a sucker for Love & Basketball.
Jesse: You recently became a first time mum, how has motherhood been treating you and will we see you out on the court again in the near future?
Tessa: Motherhood has been a massive change, but I absolutely love it. I have so much respect for every female athlete who is a mother, and i think they don’t get enough credit!!! I have started training again, so hopefully I’ll be back this upcoming season!