Weronika Falkowska 

June 8, 2023

“I was always a sports person, I think. My dad took me to my first tennis lesson when I was five and half, and I just fell in love with the sport. Without my dad, I don’t think I would’ve played tennis. He helped me so much and he’s very involved. Not as much anymore, I’m trying to separate things more, but he was always there. He was never my coach, but he helped me with finding sponsors and getting financial support, because in Poland that can be very tough. I think maybe because tennis isn’t so popular here. But I was very grateful to have him and still am.  He traveled with me to tournaments all over Poland and outside. He helped me a lot. At first, he didn’t know anything about tennis. I think he just listened to coaches and learned from them. He also saw that I was good at the sport and enjoyed it, so he continued even with the risk. Because there is risk. You never know if your child is going to be good or not, and it can be a lot of money. I think at the beginning, I won a lot of (more…)

Mark Booras

June 4, 2023

Mark Booras, head tennis coach at Tulane University in New Orleans, needs the help of the larger tennis community.  Mark has played tennis for virtually all of his 52 years.  He played college tennis at the University of West Virginia. He began his collegiate career for legendary coach Terry Deremer at West Virginia in 1989 and was a four-year letterman for the Mountaineers from 1989-93. He twice served as team captain, and was the Atlantic-10 Conference Player of the Year and the school’s senior player of the year in 1993. In each of his final three seasons at West Virginia, Booras competed in both the NCAA singles and doubles championship tournaments. He was a top-20 singles and doubles player throughout his college career. Following his collegiate career, Booras joined the ATP tour and continued his success, ranking as high as No. 267 in the world in doubles and 797 in singles. After a three-year career from 1994-96, he retired and decided to further his education. While earning his master’s degree at West Virginia, he was also the volunteer assistant men’s tennis coach and a private tennis instructor. Mark went to Tulane in 2008 to rebuild a team from scratch, after Tulane had to (more…)

Jordan Belga

June 2, 2023

“Growing up, I was a sheltered introverted awkward kid. Even though I grew up in church and became a born-again Christian, I was good at living it portrayed but not necessarily understanding the “whys” internally. Tennis became my obsession from 9 years old. I was exposed to more of the world with the lens of a church kid. There was so much that I didn’t understand and was probably misunderstood for why I acted differently in certain situations. On the internal side, I struggled with communicating and building relationships with people who didn’t see or listen to how I viewed the world from faith.At 12-14 years old, I reached career highs that led my family to making a major sacrificial decision to move to Boca Raton to advance my tennis with USTA Player Development. 10 short months later, I found myself in a dark hole of misery with a major back injury that sidelined me for over a year. Seeing my peers move on, I never would have imagined dropping off the radar from the top of my game causing me to almost quit. I was fortunate to come back and get recruited to the University of Florida in hopes (more…)

Sasha Korashvili

May 12, 2023

#PartII ”Back in September 2020 I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Myelofibrosis, type of a blood cancer. Luckily, I was able to undergo bone marrow transplant (BMT) in January 2021. It is very aggressive treatment for a human body as they “kill” your bone marrow completely with chemotherapy to replace it with donor’s marrow. It was my only chance to become a healthy person again, so with no doubt I agreed.  After the treatment I had one year restrictions as my immune system was weak and prone to infections and viruses. I was avoiding crowded places, followed special diet and mostly staying at home as my body was weak. Slowly, I started to workout little more to gain strength back. In January 2022, my doctor allowed me to comeback to regular life as I successfully completed rehab after BMT and I started to get in shape to comeback on court. But on 24th of February I woke to explosions, war in Ukraine started… I stayed in bombshelter for 6 days and after that I decided to flee to Austria till August to save my life for a second time.  In September I came back to Kyiv and started to (more…)

Li Tu

April 23, 2023

“I started playing tennis when I was four or five years old. My older brother played badminton and he was quite a good player. I went to one of his practices one day and I just picked up a racket and started hitting. His coach saw and was like, “Man, your little brother’s pretty good. He can play, but he should go play tennis because there’s no money in badminton.” Then from there, my dad started taking me to the local courts and that’s where I started playing. That’s where I really fell in love with the game. I remember my dad had a bean sprout factory with a big open space where all the delivery vans were. When they went out and I was at the factory, I’d just hit balls against that wall and picture scenarios at Wimbledon or other slams. My family, they’re from China. I think that’s where I got my work ethic from. My parents came over from China 30, almost 40, years ago. My dad came over first, and didn’t see my mom for over two and half years. He was just working, trying to get everything set up in Australia. Then when he (more…)

Nick Hardt

April 13, 2023

“Growing up, my dad had a little tennis club back home in the Dominican Republic. I used to watch him play every day with his friends. He never played professionally, just as a hobby with his friends, but I watched him play every day. One day, I decided to try it out and from that point, I fell in love with the sport. When I was little, I was chubby. I was maybe a little bit talented from the beginning, but I was never confident that I could make it to the professional level. I always had a voice in my head that every tennis player was really athletic and I wasn’t. After I started winning some matches on the junior circuit, though, I realized maybe I could play at that level. You never know. To be honest, I had a really tough childhood. When I was one or two, my parents got separated. I never really saw them together, and when they did all they did was fight. I didn’t really know what love was. Some days I was with my dad, others with my mom, and they basically hated each other. It was tough to be a little (more…)

Moez Echargui

March 16, 2023

“I remember when I first started playing, it was actually by mistake. My parents never did sports, and I have two older brothers who are more study-oriented. I started playing tennis very late, around 10 years old. One day, I went with my brothers to play football with their friends, and the ball went over the wall. I didn’t know back then, but the football field was right next to tennis courts. Since I was the youngest among the group, I had to get the ball, and that’s how I discovered the courts. One day, I just asked my brothers to go play, and that’s how I started. Then I never stopped. Once I started, I kept going up. After a year, I was already on the national team. At a young age, we started traveling around Africa to play in regional tournaments. By 13 or 14, I started to travel to Europe, playing in more serious tournaments. I remember my first time traveling to the States, it was to play in the Orange Bowl. It was quite an experience traveling so far, but it was an exciting one because I did good. In Tunisia, we don’t really have the (more…)

Diego Hidalgo

March 9, 2023

“One thing that differentiates me from other players is that tennis is not everything. It’s a phase in my life. I believe most players live thinking that everything and everyone revolves around them. I am a tennis player, but more importantly I’m a son, a brother, a friend, an uncle and a boyfriend. I like to work on my social life and relationships the same way I work on my tennis, because it is a very important area of my life. If I am feeling good with the people around me, my game flows. Pressure is a big issue that we have to learn how to deal with. I think that losses used to have a bigger effect on me. I used to get down on myself and started to doubt the work I had put in. Now, wins have a greater impact on my life. I see wins as an opportunity to be an example to others, and to inspire the people around me with what I do. We’ve been so lucky to have leaders like Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, and they have inspired many of us to lead by example not only on court, off the court too: (more…)

Diana Shnaider

February 17, 2023

“I’m from a really small town — I’m not from Moscow. I started playing tennis at four years old because my parents were searching for some stuff for me to do. As a kid, I explored in a lot of different ways — I danced, played music and also found tennis. I remember we were driving through town and we saw a big racket with the name of a club. It said that they had groups of kids. My mom was like, “Maybe we should try this one.” We got there and asked if I could try one practice, just to see if I would like it. They said yes, and that day I just tried it. There was a good coach for the kids, and he saw that I had good reaction times that are needed for tennis. I came a second time, a third time, and then the coach gave me a racket to keep. I went everywhere with the racket. My parents used to tell me that I was sleeping with the racket — I never let it go. They told me that I broke everything, all the glass in the flat, because I was always holding (more…)

Franco Agamenone

February 9, 2023

“There’s no one moment when tennis changed my life. Throughout my career, I’ve gone through many beautiful and not so beautiful moments. All of these moments helped me to grow. The hardest moment in my career was when they told me I was positive for a doping test. It was from contaminated supplements and I couldn’t compete for 9 months. That was a very hard time. Surely, one of the most beautiful moments of my career was last year getting to play the Grand Slams for the first time in my life. Also, at the tournament in UMAG I experienced indescribable emotions. Victories often confuse you and make you deviate from the most important thing, which is to always give 100% and continue growing. In my case, it has happened to me that I was affected by thoughts surrounding expectations. The expectations of others, or the expectations I thought they had for me, dictated my thoughts. Additionally, the belief that “If I beat an opponent with a high ranking today, I must beat someone with a lower ranking as well,” was constantly on my mind. I am a very self-demanding person — a perfectionist.  I love tennis and I try (more…)