I never thought I would become a tennis coach. For as long as I can remember, my whole life has revolved around long training hours, hitting thousands of balls, sacrificing weekends, holidays, countless important events, and not to mention exciting milestones like prom. I dreamt of retiring from the tour and never stepping on the court again. I couldn’t wait for my normal life to begin.
Two years into retirement, I started working in television. I was a commentator for a National Spanish Language sports show and a columnist online. I enjoyed it immensely. I was approached by many players that wanted me to coach them but at the time, I was not interested.
Then one day, two sisters Laila and Nadia Abdala from Mexico City approached me. Being able to train them for four years and see what they could accomplish through their hard work, dedication and discipline changed my mind and made me love being on the other side of the court. Their efforts combined with all the experiences throughout my career and the knowledge I acquired from being exposed to the best trainers and coaches in the world, allowed me to help them achieve their goal. They became one of the top recruits for universities in the country and got full ride scholarships into ASU. It was then that I understood that it was my calling to be able to give back to this sport that had given me so much. It became my passion to help players at different levels reach their goals.
I immediately began to focus on being a coach, which is completely different than being a player. Just as I did when I trained to compete, I dedicated myself to becoming the best coach possible. I studied, enrolled in courses, got certifications, consulted and still to this day, I never stop learning.
I train players at all levels, some want to be pro, others dream of getting a scholarship to a university. Most of the players that I train come from Tijuana or Mexico. Some have moved here and those who are committed and train hard have received scholarships based on their tennis skills. It is not easy playing a competitive sport! Many students are in love with the idea of becoming a pro, but once they realize what it takes, they lose their ambition. It is very rare that you get to work with someone that is completely dedicated to tennis.
A typical day starts off with an off-court training session which includes running and sprints. Morning training is followed by breakfast, school studies, a two-hour tennis session, lunch, another training session in the afternoon, and finally, more physical work. Every weekend is spent playing tournaments.
Tennis gives you so much at any level. In my opinion, it provides you with many of the lessons that are important in life. You learn responsibility from a young age, discipline, problem solving, good sportsmanship, you understand that you can’t always win, and how to cope with pressure. It gives you skills that you will be able to apply throughout your lifetime.
The greatest form of personal gratification, for me, is seeing my students succeed in their lives because of what tennis has given to them. A former student of mine, Elizabeth Kaufman, who played for Yale University and is now a Doctor summarizes this sentiment well, “What tennis teaches you stays with you for a lifetime, I learned more playing the sport than studying to become a doctor. I use all skills in my life and in my career, but if you are able to handle the pressure of competing you, can do anything in life.”