Ekaterina Makarova

August 30, 2019

August 30, 2019 “I never think that I should be playing another sport but the long year of tennis is exhausting. Other sports have two-three months off to use as a break. I understand that other sports may push their players harder during the short seasons but there is no way they are put in the same amount of stressful situations as tennis players are. It’s tough to say because very few of us have played other sports at this level. Looking at the other side it might be extremely nerve-racking knowing you have to do well in a shorter amount of time rather than having the chance to play every week. We just don’t know, I can only speak about tennis. After the Olympics in 2016, all other sports went on holiday, to relax and recover, some for even over a year. Some girls from home, in synchronized swimming, rested for two years and then began preparing for the next Olympics. For the tennis players, it’s totally different since we had to fly to the US Open the next day. Everyone was looking at us like we were crazy. The travel is really one of the toughest parts of (more…)

Michael Kosta

August 26, 2019

August 26, 2019 “I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and my siblings and I would get on our bikes and ride down to the Ann Arbor Racquet Club to play tennis. It was always this big family event. I fell in love with the sport because it would always bring the people I loved together. Fast forward 20 years to this small island off the coast of South Korea, called Jeju Island. I was competing in a 10k Future. I’d been on the road maybe six or seven weeks and was just worn down. It wasn’t like I was winning every week. I was maybe making second round in singles with the occasional win/final in doubles. I was alone in this small fishing village where it was constantly raining. I managed to overcome loneliness and get to a point where I was playing well. I remember the moment when I felt the change. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why my confidence all of sudden improved, especially without a coach by my side. I’m playing on my own savings and a little bit of money I raised. I was up 5-1 serving in third and I can’t (more…)

Taro Daniel

August 20, 2019

August 20, 2019 “I definitely feel some true pressure. It’s mixed, mostly from myself, but also triggered a little bit by maybe some fans in Japan. I think I receive extra financial help or sponsors than most people around my ranking or even higher have. Sometimes I feel almost guilty for having them. You’d have players around my ranking struggling financially sometimes. I feel the pressure to keep on improving my ranking in order to maintain the status I have gained in Japan. Last year was basically the first year I made a satisfying amount of money. When I was younger I would think, ‘Hey, if I can make this much out of tennis a year, then I would be happy or satisfied and wouldn’t have to worry about money anymore. Then I can concentrate more on the process or improving’. When money or sponsors come into your life they bring new problems. There are unexpected problems that you’ve never dealt with, that I’ve had to deal with this year, that I’ve struggled with a bit more than anticipated. Last year was the first time I had ever gotten into some big TV shows in Japan and made a name (more…)

Petra Kvitova

August 18, 2019

August 18, 2019 “The story of my attack is unfortunately not great, but how I came back is what I want people to know. It was obviously not something I expected to deal with and made me feel empty inside for a while. The attacker took my love, tennis, away from me. I didn’t want to just come back, I wanted to come back and play at the highest level. It was like a challenge for me. Mentally, it helped having resounding support from everyone in my life and others I didn’t know. I had lots of messages and emails, I had fellow tennis players, even tournaments, who filmed videos wishing me a good recovery, which helped me get through everything. It was heart warming to see all the faces smiling as I made my way back to my first tournament. Some players didn’t know how to act towards me at first, but there was a feeling of comfort to see all of them again. I truly missed the competition of being on the court. As a tennis player you have to deal with many tough aspects such as being on the road for long periods, the ups and downs (more…)

Timea Babos

August 15, 2019

August 15, 2019 “It’s obvious Hungary is not a tennis nation but I was lucky in two ways. My dad could actually coach me, so that didn’t cost the family anything. Also my sister, helped me through it all since she has been the tennis path before. My parents didn’t even want me to play tennis, they started me as a swimmer. I knew as a swimmer I would receive the right support from my country. I then started tennis when I was like nine or ten years old. In the beginning I just did it for fun and then my mom started traveling with me to some local tournaments. Out of nowhere I started winning, and she told my dad, ‘This girl really has talent, but just has no clue how to play’. I combined that with speed and fighting spirit on court and it led to success. My dad finally took me to a tournament and I begged him to start working with me when I was ten. My dad is still one of the best coaches in Hungary so it was a big deal for me. It’s not easy without the help of a federation and without (more…)

Makenzie Raine

August 12, 2019

August 12, 2019 “I cannot imagine my life without tennis. It has been so engrained in me, with practice basically every day, I am sure life would be boring without it. My dad started it all. He used to watch tennis all the time, so I guess he wanted me to love the sport as much as he did. For me now, it is extremely fun. All I want to do is to become the best player I can possibly be. My dreams are to first go to an incredible college which will hopefully lead to me becoming a professional tennis player at some point. At the moment I practice with the team at the University of Minnesota, which is one of my top dream schools, so I can stay in state. If not, I am all for going to a school down south to get away from these winters. I am trying to juggle my other passions, like acting and modeling, with tennis. I understand that in the future it will be difficult to manage but my goal is to try to find a way to intertwine them and make it all work. For now as I grow as (more…)

Jonathan Pham

August 8, 2019

August 8, 2019 #MyBTR– “For somebody soft-spoken like myself, stringing is the perfect craft to become adept at in the tennis world. It’s all behind the scenes, and I’m mostly content operating in anonymity. No glamour, nor big salaries involved, and there are a very select few who would be crazy enough to actively pursue this line of work. I’ve been extremely lucky thus far, being granted opportunities to grow and remain involved with high-caliber programs. I worked my way from a student manager earning $8/hour, 7 years ago, to getting a business license and freelancing exclusively as a racquet tech for 2 years after graduation. I was then rehired this past fall as a part-time Operations Coordinator, for a coaching staff who created an administrative position that previously didn’t exist, to go along with my stringing duties. Here, I’m surrounded by an incredible group of people who look out and care for each other, and I’m grateful to be part of the team atmosphere despite not having any on-court accolades. I pride myself in being a problem-solver at work and for others, to a fault, where I spend more time addressing them than at home with family. Working with (more…)

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

August 5, 2019

August 5, 2019 ”I grew up with this idea that winning was prioritized over everything else. That somehow if I came away with a first place trophy, that the people around me would love me more. I soon realized that these moments were fleeting. That the minor satisfaction the people around me felt would only last so long. That I wouldn’t receive the same feeling as if I played for only myself. To break this habit took ongoing, conscious effort. Tennis puts this stigma on losing to the point that only the winners receive the platform to speak. It’s truly sad that losers are barely acknowledged in a sport where defeat is an every week occurrence. We need to change the idea that losing equals failure, rather than something that takes place every week. I got to a point where I figured out that the match was the bonus. I was able to play the way that I wanted to, the style I wanted to. Once I understood these key factors I began to play more freely than ever. I found a love for playing how I wanted to without worrying about what other people wanted for me. The hardest (more…)

Josh Dixon

August 1, 2019

August 1, 2019 “I must have been around 9 or 10 years old when I picked up a racquet and truly understood what it was like to hit a tennis ball. I was spending so much time in school or in gymnastics that tennis was an outlet for me to hang out with friends in a ‘normal existence’. When my tenure at Stanford came around, it turned into a stress reliever from the gymnastics training. The Bank of the West classic was at Stanford every year. Prior to the tournament we would sneak onto center court when it was lit up and pretended we were playing a grand slam final. Looking back, it was kind of crazy. When I was living and training at the Olympic Training Center for gymnastics, tennis provided a mental relief from the intensity of Olympic sport. I attend as many tournaments as I can and it’s always a dream to hit with some of the Pros. In the gymnastics world, no matter the circumstance (training, US championships, World Championships, the Olympic Games) it’s recognized that it’s you vs the moment, versus the pressure, versus yourself; you’re completely on your own. There’s nobody to interact with, (more…)