Lebelo Mosehle

March 28, 2021

#MyBTR– “I started playing tennis at the age of 6 in Lesotho, Africa. I was a swimmer first but they were charging 5 cents and my family lived off an $80 salary for a group of 5. My older brother started playing tennis and I was fascinated by the fact that he would bring tennis balls back and sell them in my village. I only got a pair of shoes once a year, and that would be on Christmas. I competed for years barefoot and my feet would tear until I started bleeding.  I would take a few days off, then when I felt better I would go back again. At the time I was only 8/9.  When I turned 10, I quit playing to help my mom start her business selling clothes on the side street so I can contribute to helping my family.  I had to grow up and basically be a man at 10.  One of my coaches (Letona Mokhitli) came to my house and talked to my parents about how much talent he thinks I have.  So my parents let me go back but I had to sell oranges from office to office so I can (more…)

Mandy Minella

March 25, 2021

“In 2001, I moved to Paris at age 15 to follow my dream of becoming a professional tennis player. My parents made this possible and I did not want to disappoint them. I trained full-time at an academy but struggled with solitude. I traveled alone for years without a coach. In 2006, I injured my knee and my tennis career became uncertain. Hard times prepare you to enjoy the good times. Four years later, I broke through at the US Open. I won five matches and faced Venus Williams on Arthur Ashe under the lights. I realized the huge impact of tennis as entertainment and I could not believe I was one of the players in this world. I gained motivation because I wanted to spend more time on the biggest stages. If you put in the work, it is in your hands whether or not you achieve success. My results improved and I started to earn a living as a professional tennis player. In 2016, I struggled from an injury that prevented me from achieving results. I felt like I forgot how to hold a racquet. I could not put one foot in front of the other and my (more…)

Robin Haase

March 18, 2021

“I have been very fortunate with almost everything in my life. But there are certain things that make you think differently. My former coach was convicted for the murder of a friend of mine in 2016. He is still in prison. Dealing with that situation was like being in a strange, bad movie. It was very tough to handle the press. I had nothing to do with the situation but every article used my name in the headlines. I had emotions as well but was suddenly put in the center of the story. This lasted until nearly two years after the murder. The press told me they used my name because it sold more news. During this time, I did not leave my house for two weeks. Then I went out for lunch and people recognized me so I walked with my head down. I was almost embarrassed to be there because I did not know if they knew me from the tennis court or press from the murder. What did they think of me? This was not an easy time in my life. I always enjoyed playing tennis but during this time, I did not want to be on (more…)

Gustavo Fernandez

March 11, 2021

“My life has always been sports. My father was a professional basketball player in Argentina and won five National Basketball League championships. I have been in a wheelchair since I was one and a half years old. I have always loved sports and I tried every sport. I played basketball and golf. Then I tried tennis because my mother played tennis socially. I have always loved to compete. Once I got into tennis, I realized I had a high chance of being a professional player. Over the course of days and years, I improved and became a tour player. My motivation comes from my passion for the sport and the ability to compete. I have a natural competitive motivation and have developed a way to perform under pressure. I have also worked hard and put many years of my life into the sport. I have always loved to practice. It might sound crazy, but I enjoy the bad times as well because they make you stronger. They make you grow and improve every day. If you combine these things and work hard enough, you will probably be successful in anything you do. When I was 11 years old, I said (more…)

Barbora Miklova

March 7, 2021

#MyBTR– “I can’t imagine a life without tennis. Tennis is the drug you love and hate at the same time. I had a very difficult path getting to where I am today. Several times in my life, I was bullied because I was different. I felt lonely and cried many nights. When I stepped on the court, I forgot reality and felt safe because I was doing what I loved. When I was ten years old, I had knee surgery. I got through this time with the help of my incredible family that believed I would be victorious on the court and in life. I never got anything for free. I’m from a small city so I have not gotten help from others. As I grew older, I felt that people were talking about me. I stopped enjoying tennis. Then I realized I had to play for myself and not for others. I was determined to sacrifice everything to be the best. If I could do this, I thought there would be no more pain. I chose a new coach and went through six months of hell without my family. I suffered from a lack of food, sleep and joy. (more…)

Zach Svajda

March 4, 2021

“At age 15, I won a wild card tournament and earned a spot in a futures event. I drew the number one seed in the first round. I did not know what to expect and just wanted to see what would happen. I won in straight sets and got my first ATP point. This moment changed everything and my coach saw I could hang with highly ranked professional players. This match was a big step forward and gave me confidence. I never thought about going to college because I always wanted to play on tour. In 2018, I started thinking about turning professional. The next year, I won the USTA Boys National Tournament and earned a wild card into the 2019 US Open. I did not know what to expect and just wanted to win a few games for myself and the crowd. I thought, “Hopefully, I don’t get destroyed.” I went up two sets to love in the first round. The atmosphere was amazing. I thought, “Wow, I can hang with these guys.” Then I cramped. I was not physically present in the third set but I finished the match and lost in five sets. I told myself this (more…)