Danielle Collins

April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020 “It started when I was 15. I was having bad pain in my ribs and issues going to the bathroom. I was extremely sick for a couple months and saw more than a few doctors. I went to a rheumatologist and I tested positive for an autoimmune disease. Everything else looked okay but the doctors told us that it takes some time to accurately diagnose. After a couple months they were still finding my bloodwork to be normal. I was having symptoms that were consistent with someone with an autoimmune but they weren’t able to narrow it down. While in college I would get sick all the time. My college coaches were always pushing me to see doctors and stay on top of it because the health challenges they saw I was constantly facing. No one could figure it out. I continued to get bloodwork every two months and nothing came of it. During this time I had wrist surgery, a meniscus tear and a lot of joint related issues. Orthopedics diagnosed me with tendonitis. Unfortunately I think there were many times many of my symptoms were pushed under the rug because I was an athlete. The (more…)

Valeriya Solovyeva

April 28, 2020

April 28, 2020 “As a junior I was someone that parents would use as an example for their kids all the time. Saying, ‘Look at her footwork, copy her attitude, she is the best junior’, and so on. I signed a contract with Nike and Babolat while also signing with a management agency when I was 13 years old. This was all after winning the Orange Bowl. Things looked pretty good at that moment with a very promising future, but things turned around. I felt so much pressure and responsibility to perform as a 14 year old kid and I couldn’t handle the expectations that came with it. I was just a kid who did what she was told to do, win. When you hear on a daily basis that you must win, you truly forget to play tennis or enjoy the game. The tennis court was a stressful zone for me. As I went on court for the next few years knowing I wasn’t allowed to lose, that’s all that was happening, over and over again. I was only thinking about results and not how I could improve my game. I lost confidence, everybody else was getting better but (more…)

Elise Mertens

April 26, 2020

April 26, 2020 “It is not easy taking that big step from ITF to WTA. I was top 10 in juniors and I felt like I was in the dark again, starting over. It was exciting that I can start from scratch but also scared about how much work was ahead. Even with all the travel with my mom, I think my character is a bit more like my dad. He doesn’t play tennis or know a lot about it but he knows me really well and has helped me mentally get through things. I started playing pro tournaments later than others, around 17. I went fully pro at 18. It wasn’t easy in the beginning learning about all the new opponents . You begin by losing a lot of matches at first. The feeling of winning my first 10k was an unbelievable feeling. That winning feeling keeps you going, the passion keeps you going. I used the inspiration from other players in order to raise my level of tennis to theirs. After reaching 500 you get a feel of it, and just want more. It doesn’t always go as fast you want and tennis players are not very patient. (more…)

Guido Pella

April 23, 2020

April 23, 2020 “It’s not easy when you are practicing in a small town like mine. My father used to coach me about 20 years ago. I needed him because my city didn’t have much for tennis, it was mostly basketball. Ginobili was born here so all my friends were trying to follow him. I didn’t have many people to practice with until I improved enough to travel and see who else was out there. 2014 was by far my toughest year. I was in qualifying of a tournament where I won the first set 7-6, but was struggling the whole match. I felt confident to win the match the whole time but my mindset was negative the whole time. I felt the same way in the second round and told myself I don’t want to play this way and needed to go home. It didn’t even matter if I was playing well I was so negative that I couldn’t think.I stopped playing tennis for some time. Not only did I stop enjoying the tournaments, travel and practice, but the effort it took to play at the top level was too much for me at the time. I was thinking (more…)

Tommy Robredo

April 21, 2020

April 21, 2020 “My parents divorce was one of the toughest moments for me. I remember coming back from Australia in 2004 everything was over. My mom had to leave the house, which wasn’t easy to deal with. I was 21 years old and found myself in the middle of this all. I left home when I was 14 to move from a small town to Barcelona for better practice. For being away from them and leaving them, I felt really guilty. I had times where I would lie down thinking that if I was home, this wouldn’t happen. I remember that these were my feelings in the beginning, and I would cry because both my mother and father were not okay and I thought it was because of me. I tried to take care of them both in different ways. In the end I realized it was better for both of them now. It makes me smile knowing that my parents are okay now. When moments like this take place it is impossible to be 100% focused on tennis. I always say life is like a tree. As you grow and add ‘things’ to your life, the tree gets (more…)

Marco Cecchinato

April 18, 2020

April 18, 2020 “When I was 17 years old I was at a crossroads in my life. I had to think if I would continue to live and train in Palermo, Sicily, where I grew up, or go somewhere else and find new goals and motivations. I decided to move across Italy to Caldaro, a very small town up north, where I had the chance to train and live with coach Massimo Sartori and a very young Andreas Seppi. This was the beginning of my professional career. The first few months were so hard on me. Caldaro was a little town in the middle of nowhere on the Italian Alps. It was cold and rainy, where most people speak German and are pretty introverted. I would say it felt like a totally different world from what I was used to. Palermo is a large, sunny city right on the beach. I am an only child has had all my parents attention and I was always their number one priority. In Caldaro I was on my own, from cooking and cleaning, to doing laundry or just spending time with someone. I had no friends there and all I would do was (more…)

Sumit Nagal

April 16, 2020

April 16, 2020 “Early on my father said, ‘Listen, son, I rather have you play an individual sport because it’s going to be tough without any money or connection to play cricket. I don’t want you to put so many hours into something and not be able to live out your dream.’ That’s why we chose tennis. Tennis started small for me, not knowing s**t. I went to the court the first day, played for an hour and hit one ball in the court. I was happy making one ball in the court. Then from there, just started playing hours of tennis. My typical schedule was fitness from 6:00 to 7:30 in the morning, come back, have breakfast and then go to school. I was allowed to miss assembly and first period. I would stay at the school until around 2:00 and then come back home and eat lunch. I would chill in bed watching anime until 5 where I would go train again. I would play tennis and do fitness and get home around 10 at night. Imagine, living like this not knowing much about tennis. My dad couldn’t afford much, we only had a bike to get around. (more…)

Coco Gauff

April 14, 2020

April 14, 2020 “I’ve always wondered how better or worse my life would be without tennis. With what this sport has given me I cannot imagine my life would be better without. At times I found myself too busy comparing myself to others. Most of my friends go to normal high school. I felt like they always seemed so happy being ‘normal’. For a while I thought I wanted that but then I realized that just like social media everyone isn’t as happy as what you see in their posts. It took me about a year to get over that idea. Again, my results were still okay, so this didn’t have much to do with tennis. I just wasn’t happy playing anyway. My parents did a great job of trying to make sure I did ‘normal’ childhood things. I was able to go to homecoming this past year and was planning on going to prom until the coronavirus. I do try to see friends as much as I can. My parents both work so I do spend a lot of time at home alone. It is challenging to do school alone while you can’t socialize with other students. Even though (more…)

Pablo Andújar

April 11, 2020

April 11, 2020 “The problem with my injury was it wasn’t only about tennis. It negatively affected my daily life. My elbow injury was the worst one in my life. Some people may think I am just complaining but it was very tough for me. It lasted about three and half years with five surgeries during that time. Before returning in 2018 I had three difficult surgeries, with a couple easier in 2018 and 2019. 2015 was one of the best years of my career when I got to the finals of Barcelona. From that I reached my career ranking. I also made third round of Wimbledon, which for me is very difficult since I didn’t win a match there prior. I was playing well until I felt something in my elbow. I did what I could to avoid pain but it wasn’t helping. I remember playing a match where I could barely finish the first set serving. After the match I saw a doctor who said it was all okay and it would be fine for me to go to the American swing of tournaments. I first played in Canada, then Cincinnati and then finally the US Open. After (more…)

Roberto Bautista Agut

April 9, 2020

April 9, 2020 “My mom passed away in 2018. I was at the club I used to train at when I got a call after practice. I found out my mom went to sleep and didn’t wake up. It was 100% unexpected. She was very young, only 52 years old, but was supporting a lot of stress from taking care of my father. Back in 2016 my father was in an accident. My father fell while he was cleaning our horse stables and became paralyzed. It was days before the Rio Olympics, which I almost decided to skip, but ended up going in the end. My father was in the bed in the next room when my mom passed away. It was an incredibly tough four years. From my father’s accident he became a quadriplegic, couldn’t move from the neck down. He used an artificial breathing machine since he couldn’t do it himself. We had two people, plus my mother, who took care of my father 24 hours a day. Then when my mom passed away, my wife and I had a lot of work considering that he needed all day help. We added a few more people to the (more…)