JC Aragone

September 23, 2021

“Everyone’s heard of my original health scare, which left me in a coma — my initial fight to stay alive. Once I got through with that, I was like, “All right, I’m in the clear, I’m good.” It took me another six, seven months to even get back to playing. I was happy, and then I started playing. My first time back was Kalamazoo, and I actually played Jordan Daigle first round, who was coming to UVA. I just felt terrible. I just remember walking out there and I was chugging water like no other. I had to go to the bathroom four times. I just felt bad, dizzy. I hadn’t played a tournament in two years. I thought that was normal. I ended up flying home, went straight to the hospital, got some blood work, and that’s when they told me, “Hey, you have type one diabetes.” I guess it was just all the stress I’d been through that last year on my body.  Of course, that was difficult because you feel confused at times. I’ve been through so much so when they were like, “Oh, you’re going to be fine, you’re going to live,” I was like, “Okay, (more…)

Despina Papamichail

September 9, 2021

“It was a random summer. My best friend back then was like, “Come to the tennis court, Despi. The court is beautiful,” and I was like, “Okay.” Since day one, it just started like this — I liked it.  I liked tennis because it was an individual sport. I wanted the responsibility on me. You could either win or lose, but because of your own fault. I liked the sound of the ball. I like that you have a racket and you got to hit it so you need more coordination. There is not something specific that threw me into it, but the whole thing — I love the whole thing. The competition, the screaming, the match after match. Being a defensive player, I was winning a lot from the mistakes of the others. I had to change into an aggressive player. They were pushing me to be aggressive, and then I lost my game because I don’t think players should change their games. We started the tournaments the year that I was 18. 350 with so much pressure of winning, and I start losing. I was not sleeping, I was dreaming that they would take off my contract. I (more…)

Rennae Stubbs

September 2, 2021

#LegendaryBTR– “There is nothing about my career that I look back and I have huge regrets — I just feel like all of us have our own journey. I think the things that I eventually got to was because of what I went through. If I really look at my career, maybe I would have been a little bit more focused earlier on, not worrying about others or being popular. I made my last Wimbledon doubles finals in 2009. I played a long time. I probably could’ve played a few more years in doubles, but I also wanted to not travel quite as much. I’m not sad about it, because I knew I put everything into the sport for as long as I could.  I got a call through NBC, and she said, “Do you want to cover the Olympics for us in 2012?” I was contemplating retiring at that stage. I just thought it was an opportunity for me to get into a post-career life. I remember saying yes to her and putting the phone down. I literally said to myself, “Well, that’s it. I’m retired.” I like I’ve always coached my whole career. I was a very good (more…)

Kristyna Nepivodova

August 29, 2021

#MyBTR- “Matt Stevenson made an incredible impact on my life. And not only mine. His kind heart led the example to others. He was dedicated to coaching tennis, his always positive energy, outstanding sense of empathy and playful insight made his classes fun and kids loved him. He would never show a single sign of feeling sad or troubled. You would never think he was going through personal challenges. Instead, he focused on alleviating the personal worries others would face. I remember I was stressed about meeting my tuition payments. I worked as much as I could to make it, and he would source more clinics and private lessons into my schedule. He also helped me to set up a stringing gig. I remember he told me he owned a stringer machine and since he hated stringing, he would gift me that machine. We went to pick it up which was the funniest story on its own; we carried the stringer from a top floor to the far back of a parking lot and although it was incredibly heavy, we laughed our lungs out. Matt lifted a heavy weight of my chest by such random actions of kindness. I wish he knew how much he changed my (more…)

Sara Sorribes Tormo

August 26, 2021

“I had no pressure when I went to the juniors. I was just trying to do good in the pros too where, of course, I was not one of the best. I just tried to play good tournaments, good matches. I never played many juniors. I started early with 10,000s and it started working good for me. I did a couple of finals when I was 15. I started from there, and I played just the grand slams. I really like to do what I do — I love tennis. I’m enjoying a lot my time on court. I was lucky I had a good process. I always was going up slowly, but always going up. I think that’s good because you don’t feel like you’re going down and you’re losing many matches. For me everything was very slow, but was secure. The toughest thing that I had was to stay away from home when I went to Barcelona for practice. That’s what I wanted, but I was far away from home. For me, I stay with my loved ones and just in the small city where I live — it’s really nice. I really like to stay there, so for me (more…)

Greet Minnen

August 19, 2021

“I was never one of the younger ones who stood out immediately; I was always a bit slower than the rest. I think everybody just needs to take their own path and take their time. Not everybody is like Bencic or the other girls who already stood out a lot at a young age. I think my transition to the pro circuit was pretty difficult. I think I was 103 before Covid came. For me, it was tough to start again and find my level, because you’re focusing so much on this top 100 and everybody’s asking me, ‘When are you going to make it and when are you thinking about getting into the top 100?’ and stuff like that. Sometimes it’s tough to deal with those things because you already put so much pressure on yourself. The last few months I’m really trying to not think about it too much. I’m just trying to really focus on the things I have to do on-court and off-court and I’m sure it will follow if I keep going like this. I feel like I’m a better player than I was last year so I hope it’s going to come soon and (more…)

Allie Kiick

August 12, 2021

“June 20, 2020 — 10 days before my birthday — my mom and step dad walked through the door. My mom looks at me and says, “Al, your dad passed away this morning.” My step dad walked over to me, hugged me, and said, “Be strong for your mom and brother,” so I did just that. I struggled every day and little did I know it was just the beginning of a very long healing journey. Fast forward to 6 months later. My grandma had a cancer that was considered to be a, “good cancer that wouldn’t kill her.” That’s what we were told by the doctors. Suddenly she was in and out of the hospital due to her calcium spiking. I was on a trip training for Australian open qualifying and changed it around so I could come home to be with her before going. The day before coming home, I got the call that she had passed. She was my best friend. We did everything together. 3 weeks later my step dad’s mom passed away. A couple weeks after that my coach Lisa and I were at a tournament and her dad passed away. She had to leave (more…)

Laslo Djere

August 8, 2021

“I broke into the top 100 in 2017. It was my goal since an early age. If you’re in the top 100, then you consider that you succeeded in tennis. Although, I respect a lot of guys below top 100 because I know how good you have to be even to be 150 or 250. Those guys are also playing amazing tennis, and they are so dedicated and practicing all day. It’s not really fair in one way, but that’s what the sport is like — Top 100 is what is in everybody’s mind; the ultimate goal to be successful. At the end of 2016, I changed my coach after 10 years. I moved to another city so there were some other changes happening. I started really bad. That season, 2017, I had 9 or 10 losses in a row on the Challenger level. I was devastated and I didn’t know what was happening because I was giving my best on the practices and everything. There was a tournament in Casablanca, Morocco, a 250 event, and I entered for the qualis.I qualified, and beat Kližan in the first round. That was my first ATP win. That came from nowhere, basically, (more…)

Lara Arruabarrena

June 27, 2021

“I always played tennis because i loved the competition and had so much fun during my matches. Practicing was always tough and i never liked it a lot but i knew i had to practice well to be able to be competitive during the tournaments and it was totally worth it and i really enjoyed everything. During my career, I have also relativized a lot everytime i lost a match thinking i would have another chance next week. As they say “new week new chances” and that’s how i always saw it from inside. Specially when is so difficult to win a tournament and all players except one, lose. From when i was 19 to 25 years old, i was ranked between top 70-90 in the world and at some point i got bored of it cause i though i could do it better. So in 2017 i hired a new coach, started working with mental coach, followed super strict diet, i had bigger goals, more expectations and my journy was 24/7doing things for tennis and improve my game and be more proffesional. I changed so many things about my game, my way of thinking and my way of behaving, not just (more…)

Gabriel Markus

June 24, 2021

#LegendaryBTR– “I was born for tennis. From the age of 4, I dreamed of becoming a professional tennis player. I loved to practice and improve every detail. I went through the normal steps to get to the professional level, from junior tournaments to ATP events. By age 21, I had won challenger titles. I started to play only ATP events because I thought it was the best way to improve. It was 1992 and things were looking bright. My dreams were all coming true. I won my first ATP title in Nice, France. I beat Pete Sampras, who was number one in the world. Two weeks later, I beat Ivan Lendl and Michael Chang. I had beaten 3 of the Top 5 players. Everything was in place. I was happy and enjoying my time on the tour. My nightmare began the following year. I won a five-set match at Roland Garros and was in my best shape. I went to the locker room to ask for treatment so my body could recover. The trainer was working on my back when the massage table broke. We fell and one of the table legs badly cut my toe. The training room broke (more…)