Bradley Klahn

February 28, 2019

February 28, 2019 “As I look back, anxiety has always been something I have struggled with. In 2014, I hit my career high and things were seemingly going pretty well, until I got injured. I missed about six weeks for my back at this time and I slowly started to feel myself getting antsy. As I look back there were more than a few stresses that built up to this crescendo. Despite the wave of emotion from breaking through the top 100, I thought there were more eyes on me now, which led to the thought of, what now? Dealing with ongoing back issues, I don’t think I was completely honest with myself with what I wanted. It is now two weeks before my first French Open main draw. It felt as if I had no control of my mind. I had a panic attack on my flight from Dallas to Paris. It was nine hours of some of the most agony and pain I have ever felt. I thought that every breath I took could be my last. After getting to Paris, I could barely practice. I would walk off the court immediately and hop into a car to (more…)

Jared Hiltzik

February 26, 2019

February 26, 2019 “When growing up, in order to play tennis at a high level, you need to have some money in your family. My mom had cancer three times. First diagnosed when I was around ten. It had a large strain on my family. When reflecting on it, I wonder if I didn’t play tennis, would my parents be happier, since financials wouldn’t be an issue? Growing up on the north shore, people assume you have a lot of money. Regardless of what my parents did for a living, between three battles with cancer, doctor bills really built up. It took a major toll, forcing my family to take out multiple mortgages on the house. It is still really tough since they still cannot help me financially, nor would I ask them too. It has been extremely tough for my brother and I. They sacrificed everything for us to play tennis. They sacrificed their relationship for us. I remember going back home freshman year of college and there was constant fighting about finances. After some time I just left my house for six hours, sat in my car in a parking lot and just sobbed, not knowing why this (more…)

Allie Kiick

February 24, 2019

February 24, 2019 “About 5 years ago my father slowly started to develop Alzheimers. He was a running back for the Miami Dolphins. He was hit in the head so many times and concussions never kept players out of games. It progressed pretty rapidly. We ended up putting him in an assisted living home. It’s been one of the hardest things I had to endure in my life, which includes having cancer, knee surgeries and my mother having a stroke. This is beyond all of that. Tennis used to be my escape but recently it has just been taking away time that could be spent with my dad. The time with my dad is limited, every day matters, since it’s only getting worse. My biggest fear is that I will come back from a tournament and look at him and all there will be is confusion. I kind of find peace in the fact that he wants me to be doing this and not give my dream up for him, but at what point is it okay to say missing time with my father is worth that? Every day I step on the court and think about why I am (more…)

Steph Austin

February 23, 2019

February 23, 2019 “I am not a pro athlete. I am a school administrator who works long hours and somewhat maintains an orderly household. I am also a mom who had to ‘earn’ the title of tennis player. Throughout my life I was fairly successful in anything sport related. One day I got on my daughter’s case for a less than great effort, during a tennis match. My kid told me that I didn’t understand, and I was immediately offended. I mean, I was the parent, I was an ‘athlete’, don’t tell me that I don’t understand. I felt that it was my job to guide her, and she was supposed to listen. However, the look in my daughter’s eyes spoke loudly. I mean she truly didn’t believe I understood her. Destined to never have the ‘mom you don’t understand’ conversation again, I needed to prove her wrong. I got a USTA number, entered an adult tournament and learned how to serve through youtube videos. The tournament was a magnificent failure and so began my education. Bottom line, I really didn’t know. Solely observing tennis didn’t make me an expert. What did happen, at the age of 40, was that (more…)

Filip Peliwo

February 20, 2019

February 20, 2019 “I was always a bit of an underdog. People saw me as a dangerous opponent who could beat top guys on a good day, but who never really went that deep into tournaments. Nobody truly expected me to be a contender for junior slams, so everyone was pretty surprised that I made four finals, winning two of them in just a year. That obviously changed people’s perspectives. It was definitely a lot of pressure, having everyone expecting me to be top 100 right out of juniors. When you have high expectations, you start paying too much attention to the results rather than the process. You start to lose confidence and doubt your abilities, thinking whether or not you’ll actually make it. Especially when the health issues set in, it’s easy to get negative. It took a little while to get the bigger results going, but I made steady progress. I had some bad luck in the summer of 2016. I took a trip to Asia, which was around six or seven weeks long. It was right after I lost the last match of the trip. I was supposed to fly out the next day, when I got (more…)

Madison Keys

February 18, 2019

February 18, 2019 “When I was fifteen, I had an eating disorder. There were people in my life and others who would see me on tv, that would tell me I was fat, or needed to lose a few pounds. Eventually, that truly got into my head. I was living off three, 100 calorie bars a day. I struggled with this problem for almost two years, which led to some issues with depression. I completely shut my friends and mom out of my life. I felt like I put this mask on to get through each day, hoping no one would ask how or what I was doing. I became super paranoid because I wanted to keep it all a secret and didn’t want anyone to worry. It took until one day when I realized what I was doing, I was hurting my tennis. I couldn’t get through a week of practice because I had nothing in my body. I let other people change how I felt about myself and that hurt the dream I’ve been working towards since I was four years old. I decided that I needed to get control of my eating. It took some time to (more…)

Dominik Koepfer

February 17, 2019

February 17, 2019 “It has always been my dream to play professional tennis. I’ve never been good enough in juniors to even have a realistic shot at it. That’s why going to college was my only and last chance to keep my dreams alive. I had no junior ranking or any true results, so Tulane University and a small, D2 school were the only programs that offered me scholarship. I decided to play for Tulane, but it couldn’t have started at worse. After my first semester, I went back home to Germany. Right away, I started feeling sick to the point where I couldn’t eat or drink anymore. In order to figure out what happened, I was hospitalized for almost three weeks. It turned out I had mono. I spent Christmas and New Years in the hospital and doctors told me I wasn’t allowed to play tennis for at least 2-3 months depending on my recovery. With my scholarship on the line, and also my only hope to ever pursue a professional tennis career after college, I was unsure what would happen. I already missed the pre-season training trip and the head coach was concerned if I’d be able to (more…)

Sachia Vickery

February 14, 2019

February 14, 2019 “I had a very difficult route getting to where I am today. My mom migrated here from Guyana, in 1987, searching for a better life. While growing up my mother worked three jobs at one point, just to be able to send me to tournaments. Despite all that, she somehow always found a way to keep me in tennis. I struggled with traveling alone but it was the only choice I had. I literally had to win matches so I could afford to get to the next tournament. It seemed that I was looked past until I won some of the bigger matches. I’ve always been told that I’m too short, or my game isn’t big enough to be top 100. I was at my end point just before winning the 2013, 18’s hard court nationals, in both singles and doubles. From that I earned the main draw US Open wildcards for singles and doubles. Before the final I didn’t even have money to buy breakfast for myself. I tried calling my mom, who was home at the time, to find a solution but my phone was cut off because we couldn’t pay the bill. I was (more…)

Tennys Sandgren

February 12, 2019

February 12, 2019 ”My dad passed away in October of 2011. I had been pro for only about three months at this point. I received one of the worst phone calls anyone could ever get. I was at a 10k future in Texas when I entered my housing for the week. It was around 8 or 9 p.m when my mother called me. I think a part of me is still in that room to this day. I remember this conversation with my father, about four or five months prior to his passing. We were outside our house on a summer’s evening, while he was just drinking a beer and looking up at the stars. I go out and sit with him in silence. After a few moments, he just says to the air, ‘Is this all there is?’ I was twenty at the time and had no faculties to answer that question. He was a seasoned man, who worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met, to fund two kids’ tennis careers. I had no idea how to answer that question when a man who had been through the ringer couldn’t. It was something that stuck with me. While playing (more…)

Nathan Pasha

February 8, 2019

February 8, 2019 ”I started playing tennis at the boys and girls club. At nine years old I was homeschooled. My mother knew how much I loved to play the sport. She would do anything for me. Between wanting to spend time with my siblings and I, and wanting to watch me progress as a tennis player, she sacrificed everything just for that goal. This was not easy since it was basically one parent while growing up in the projects. My father wasn’t around much. When I was thirteen, I watched him get sentenced for real estate fraud. Despite always having a connection, since he was my father, we never became that close because he was in jail for most of my childhood. The living situation wasn’t ideal. It got so bad for about two years we lived without running water, heat and air conditioning. The limited money affected my tennis. We didn’t have enough money for me to continue to play or travel. Since I was the best in the south for my age group, and got along really well with everyone in my section, people were extremely generous and would pay for my trips to tournaments, if I (more…)