My Tennis Journey
Words can’t express how blessed I am for having led an extraordinary life because of tennis. At a very early of 5, I picked up my first junior racket, and that’s when my journey with tennis began.
Tennis, for some, is a recreational activity played with friends. For me, it was more than just an activity. Tennis was an eye-opener, it gave me a lot of opportunities. It was life-changing. Through the sport, I was able to travel the world—from the suburbs of Bangladesh to the most elegant places like Paris and London. It made me meet new people, experience different cultures and lifestyles. I was the top junior tennis player in the Philippines at 15, was nominated to be a part of the Philippine Davis Cup Team at 17.
I had sponsors for my flight, travel expenses, clothing, rackets, and I could play at any tennis club for free. For a junior tennis player, this was the life! People were pushing me to turn professional, suggesting that I try it out for at least two years before deciding to go to college. At that time, it seemed like a win-win situation for me because I already had offers from the best academic and athletic institutions in the Philippines. With all these things coming together, my parents and I had to decide whether I should pursue a career as a professional tennis player and worst case end up at a prestigious university in Manila, or pursue an American education using my tennis. As you can imagine, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions for an 18 year old. So being the academically-inclined family that we are, we decided that I go to the US for college. I signed with Santa Clara University on a full scholarship. It is the No. 3 Jesuit University in the nation behind Notre Dame and Georgetown. Oh, I forgot to mention, we are very religious as well (So now you see the correlation between religion and my choice of school). I’ve had the best four years of my life in college. From day one, I had to balance the highest standards of academics with a tough training and tournament schedule in tennis. Waking up at 6am every single day to work out, go to class from 8-2pm, tennis practice from 3-6pm, then homework right after dinner, for four years, was one of the most difficult yet rewarding things I’ve done in my life. I am sure most student-athletes can attest this. We set school records gaining the highest team ranking as well as the first SCU tennis team to make it into the NCAA in school history, and at the same time earning the Male Athlete of the Year award my senior year. Pretty successful career I should say, right? Sure, maybe. But for me, success is more than just the accomplishments of a person. Success started when I first dedicated myself to tennis. The hard work I put in every single day while balancing academics, the dedication and support from my family, the problems we solved, the decisions we had to make—all of which led me to where I am now. I now work for AddedSport and one of the things we do best is helping kids get an American education through their sport. We share the same advocacy and that is what I love about this company. I’ve had the best four years of my life in college and there’s nothing more rewarding than to help Student-Athletes have the same experience, even more. That to me, is success. So my advice to all aspiring student-athletes… work your hardest every single day, never neglect your studies, and of course, #DreamBig! Take in the ups and downs of life with great pleasure. This will help you grow not just as an athlete but also as a person. Be humble and help others along the way. You will be more successful in life if you help others. And lastly, be grateful. Be grateful to your family and friends who love and support you unconditionally. And of course be grateful to God. It is He who gave you your talent and opportunities to shine.