Aug 30, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — This summer I was blessed to be able to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, for a month to play professional tennis tournaments. The experience, both on and off the court, was one that I will certainly never forget.
I arrived in Istanbul during a time of seemingly significant political turmoil. A few weeks before my arrival, the city had begun protests over the government’s wishes to tear down the well-known Gezi Park. By the time I arrived, the root of the protests had grown into protests against the government itself. Surprisingly, however, the violent protests were limited to the area of Gezi Park and Taksim Square, and although I was able to experience some peaceful protests throughout my stay in this famous city, it was not an issue that interrupted my tennis too much.
Playing tennis in a foreign country for a month was definitely an exciting, eye-opening experience. I was able to meet people from all over the world, all of whom had goals similar to mine: to someday be able to make a living playing tennis. It was awesome to have been able to play so many ranked players, and even better to have had the opportunity to practice with these girls every day. The month I spent training and playing showed me that although I have much to improve, I am also a lot closer to some of my goals than I had thought.
My trip got me one step closer to my short-term goal of gaining a WTA ranking. I was able to get 2-of-3 points necessary to be ranked. Such a ranking is exciting, as it will afford me new opportunities in terms of future tournaments, which will enable me to gain confidence to reach even further and continue to improve.
Throughout my trip, one of the big differences I noticed between college tennis and these events is that when you go and play these tournaments, you do not really have anyone else upon whom you can rely. I traveled alone, and so going from an environment where I had seven teammates and two coaches constantly cheering me on, to a situation where I only had myself, was a big change. The college tennis environment transforms what is a solitary sport into a team event. This trip made me appreciate my teammates and coaches and the way that they always continue to push me to become better.
Although being alone was a change, it also allowed me to really focus on myself and my game. I played a lot of great players, many of whom were ranked, and gained a vast amount of experience that differs from the college tennis experience. I particularly enjoyed watching the top seeds play because it gave me the opportunity to ascertain some of the changes I need to implement in order to achieve my goals. The difficulties of the trip, including adapting to being in a foreign country, enhanced the tennis experience even more.
This summer was one of the most interesting summers I have had, enabling me to grow as a player and person. Most notably, I learned that although I have a long road of hard work ahead of me, the journey is attainable. My goals are not as far off as I imagined, and this experience will fuel me to work even harder in the future. For now, however, I am excited to get back to our college courts and battle out some matches this year as a Hawkeye!