Marcus Willis

June 20, 2024

“I played badminton from the age of six because my mom used to play competitively so I used to go and watch her play after school. Then my badminton coach started doing mini tennis and it came to a point where I’d play tennis with him every Tuesday. I really enjoyed it. In the end, I had to choose between tennis and badminton. I picked it up quickly. By the time I was 16, 17, I played for Britain in Summer Cup events. Then, I was the number one junior under 18. Between the ages of 21 and 25 I was massively out of shape. I didn’t play a full schedule. I didn’t quite have it together at that age, I suppose. There are certain surfaces I’d be dangerous on, but I think I was a bit lost. I didn’t really have anyone around me. I just didn’t know quite how to live my life off the court in my spare time. Sometimes I find it funny looking back, and then sometimes I’m like, “Oh, mate, if I knew now how to handle it, then it would have been very different.” But do I have regrets? No. Did I learn? (more…)

Aleks Vukic

June 5, 2024

“I remember picking up a tennis racket probably when I was around six. My brother was playing, and I remember picking up some balls from him at some local courts in Sydney on the synthetic grass. Ever since then, tennis has been my life. That’s honestly probably the earliest memory I have. My parents are both academically smart people. They’re both computer engineers, and didn’t touch a racket at all. My brother started playing tennis late, and I don’t think his heart was ever in it. So it was strange forging my path. My dad pushed for tennis and my mom pushed for studies, so I was torn in between. It’s a good life in Sydney and I had a good time in high school. I enjoyed it. When my dad was pushing for me to go play tennis full-time, I was actually a little hesitant to do it myself. I wasn’t a great junior and I didn’t want tennis to consume me. When I finished high school, I tried to go pro immediately in Spain. I realized very quickly I would quit in a year or two if I kept up with that. I wasn’t ready. So I chose (more…)

Ingrid Neel

April 4, 2024

“I have an autoimmune arthritic condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis. I had been going through years of weird pains that would just not go away. Or I’d play a match, and even if it was only an hour-and-a-half match, I would feel like I was just run over by a bus. I ended up getting diagnosed after a pretty bad SI joint pain situation at a tournament. It rocked my world because my brother has the same condition, and it fully took him out of the game and majorly impacted his quality of life. I’m an optimistic person, but I’m also realistic, and watching it happen to someone close to me first was tough. I asked myself if it was better to just stop playing tennis or keep going. I wanted to stay in it, so I started playing more doubles. It was a tough thing to accept, because I was a singles player. It was not the essence of the sport I chose – doubles is an entirely different craft. But it’s become my passion now. I’m so grateful that I can even still play and that my body’s holding up. Last summer, I started to feel my back bothering (more…)

August Holmgren

March 5, 2024

“It was my father who introduced me to tennis. We would go to the indoor bubble in Denmark about once a month when I was four. Then we’d see how many times we could get the ball over the net. Our record was 132, I think. I started practicing with a club when I was six, and by the time I was 10, I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. I chose tennis because it was the most fun. I wasn’t really good, nationwide at least, until I was 15 or 16. I didn’t have an international breakthrough, so to say, until I was 17 or 18. I’ve always been a little late with reaching high levels. Same in college. My tennis career has always been like a slow but steady growth level, which has been very enjoyable for me. The two things that keep pushing me forward is seeing progress and also knowing that there’s so much that I can still improve. That’s really exciting for me. The other part of it is that I really like to be in the big moments where it’s exciting but uncomfortable. Then mostly what motivates me to (more…)

Maria Timofeeva

February 23, 2024

“At first, I started vlogging just for fun because I like watching those videos. Then, my friend and I were like, “Okay, let’s do this and see how it goes.” We didn’t really expect people to watch it. We were just doing it for ourselves, but then people started watching and writing a lot of positive comments and messages. We just want to show how it looks to be a pro player and give some insights into how we feel before and after matches. But now, of course, we also feel a bit responsible and obligated to show people behind the scenes. A big goal was to show that the picture is sometimes better than how it actually is. It’s not what people imagine. It’s just funny to see how we survive sometimes. But also, it helps me mentally, dealing with the pressure. Coming into the Australian open, I didn’t have too much pressure because I was an underdog and a first-time qualifier for a main draw. I was playing some of my best tennis there. But, with the vlogs, I saw some people talking about me, recognizing me and it put a little more pressure on me going onto (more…)

Oliver Crawford

January 4, 2024

“I got into tennis when I was two. At preschool I crawled around the classroom batting an eraser with a pencil until my knees were raw. My parents used to ask, “What is wrong with this kid?” My mom took me to our local tennis pro and said, “All he wants to do is hit a ball. Can you teach him?” One of the toughest things for me is that I don’t come from a tennis background. My parents didn’t play and had no understanding of the US “tennis system” so we made all these decisions while not knowing the game, or how to turn it into a career. For this reason, I’m proud of the work I have put in and the success that I’ve had. To help others, I run a coaching day in my hometown of Spartanburg where I offer advice, support, insight, and a contact point for young tennis players who want to further their career. I had a good start to the pros. I got to 350 in about six months. Then I started to struggle with anxiety, to the point where I didn’t feel safe on the tennis court. I saw a psychologist and (more…)

Juan Manuel Cerundolo

December 28, 2023

“My father has a club, and my mother was also a tennis coach, so both introduced me to tennis. I’ve had a racquet in my hand since I was three years old. I think I got lucky when I was young, because I won the Orange Bowl under 12. From there, I thought, “Oh, I’m one of the best players in the world at this age, so I can do this professionally. I can try at least.” That was the moment where I knew I really wanted to do this. When I was a junior, I was immature. I didn’t take tennis nearly as seriously as I do now. When I started playing pro, I think that’s when I changed my mentality. In the juniors, I thought because I was top 10, I could win every Future – like it was going to be easy. But it was tough. Every guy was grinding, hitting a lot of balls. That’s when I started training more and acting like a professional. The first month was a little tough because coming from Argentina, it’s hard to get opportunities. I had to play all Challengers. I won three, but there were moments where I (more…)

Joey Dillon

November 21, 2023

#MyBTR – “I was always heavier than most of my peers, but I didn’t let it stop me from playing. I ate, slept & breathed tennis, but knew playing college or pro would never happen.  I worked with the Ohio State tennis programs in undergrad & at the WTA after I graduated. Being in those environments was super exciting, but also exacerbated me feeling like a fish out of water. I always felt like I couldn’t be anything other than the “really big tennis fan who was also really big.” In January 2020, I began the process to have gastric bypass, which I call my “second lease on life.” It’s been an absolute game-changer. I actually don’t know my highest weight, but I’m down about 200 lbs since I started. Since then, I also came out to those close to me & started playing on the @gltaworldtour. I’ve found another family & it’s rewarding to play on a circuit all over the world with similar people. Sure, the GLTA gives a space for LGBTQ+ players & allies to play tennis, but so many charities are supported through the 100+ events every year.  I’ve used this journey to see how good (more…)

Joao Fonseca

November 16, 2023

“On the court, I think I’m a more aggressive player than normal. I’m courageous in important moments of the game (a match). In my opinion, it was the biggest difference in winning the US Open. I’ve always been like this – it wasn’t just some adaptation I made in the moment. Before winning the US Open, the biggest moment in my career was when I won the Roland Garros Junior Wild Card Series in Brazil in 2022. The victory gave me a place in the Grand Slam bracket for the first time, which I was very happy about. I had played youth  tournaments in Brazil, some abroad, but never a Grand Slam. That’s when it became key. I went to Roland Garros without many expectations and reached the round of 16. That year I played Wimbledon and the US Open too, and then we even won the junior Davis Cup final at the end of the year. Coming into the US Open this year, it was important that I overcome my hurdle of the quarterfinals. Until that point, I had reached the quarters in Australia, Roland Garros and Wimbledon, suffering and losing in  long matches. I managed to grow throughout (more…)

Tim van Rijthoven

October 19, 2023

“In juniors, there was always potential and the talent to become a good player, but a lot of things have to fall in place. For me, the tennis talent was there, but I’ve always struggled a bit mentally. I didn’t have the greatest of childhoods. My dad was pretty tough on me, which put a lot of pressure on my shoulders and I just couldn’t handle it. Plus, all the injuries from them until now have not been helping. When I was 18, I didn’t play the entire year because of an elbow injury. That was the year I first felt it, and the first time I had to quit tennis because of an injury. From there, I started to play on and off again, with pain here, there and everywhere. There was never really the opportunity to play a full year of pro tennis until last year, where I was healthy for almost the whole year. I felt good and was in the right place mentally. The years before that were a mess. I thought about quitting the sport because the pain was constant and all over, and then mentally I wasn’t there either. During this time, I basically (more…)