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by Jude Jacob Kayton August 01, 2019
I’m a professional tennis player born in small town in Romania. I’m very ambitious and extremely optimistic. For me, playing tennis makes me push my limits every time I step onto the court or enter the gym. Tennis teaches you what actually life means, with its ups and downs, with the wins and losses, with its bests and worsts. And it teaches you that if you fall 7 times, get back up 8.
I started skiing when I was 2 years old because both of my parents were professional skiers. My father was also the head coach of the national team. I was 100% involved in skiing for a couple of years so, in theory, my future was to be in this sport. Also, Sinaia, my hometown, is located in a mountainous area, so it was the perfect environment in which to become a professional alpine ski racer.
But, when I was four, I picked up a tennis racket for the first time. I played a little bit during that summer, but I stopped after two months.
When I was 8, I started to play again just for fun during that winter, because there was no snow on the mountains. From that moment, my entire life changed, and my parents decided that tennis would take priority and that I would do it professionally.
I started competing in international tournaments on a junior level (ages 13-18). I played my first tournament and won it at the age of 13. Everyone said it was the path I needed to take.
I loved the feeling, the emotions of competing, but, at that age, I had no idea what I was getting into in my first tournament. No one told me that my opponents ranged in age from 13 to 18. I was one of the youngest players! I didn’t realize anyone’s age until after I won. My mom started to explain everything. “You know what you won? You played against players aged 17-18 this tournament and you made it in your first ever ITF Juniors Circuit tournament!” she said. I had been so nervous; I couldn’t believe it happened.
As a junior tennis player, I became no. 2 in the world. My best result was the semifinals of a Grand Slam, the Australian Open juniors tournament. As a senior tennis player, I won 11 ITF Women Circuit tournaments. My highest ranking was 59 and I won matches against top 20 and top 10 players, Elena Vesnina and Kristina Mladenovic, last year.
When you get to the court, the competition is with yourself. You fight with yourself and your feelings, then with the ball and then with the opponent. You need to win against yourself - you have to control your mind, body, and feelings - if you can’t control these elements of yourself, then you can’t hit the ball properly and you will not be able to reach your full potential.
I started working with a mental coach in March this year. I felt like I couldn’t control my feelings during important points during the matches. Also my new coach is great; he helped me discover myself, is patient, understands my needs, and works on my weaknesses. His work is based on who I am and what I want to do. We do visualization exercises--I visualize the game, being on a court against a top player and so on.
Before I started working with him I was very anxious--I had many thoughts running through my head constantly, not just during sports, but in my personal life as well.
I use the appCalm. Actually, after using the app for a couple of days, I already felt a lot better. My coach told me that he cannot work with me if my mind is not calm and empty of unneeded thoughts. So every morning and night when I feel I’m not at peace, I use Calm. My favorite meditation isthe body scan.
I was trained by my father for over 13 years. I stayed in my home town of 10,000 people. I trained exclusively with my father and a ball machine. Occasionally, he would bring a sparring partner from Bucharest. Sometimes, other Romanian players would come and play. But a lot of the time it was just me and the ball machine. After a while, I started playing with my sister, Ioana. She’s 7 years younger than me. She played for a couple of years and we practiced together. And three years ago, I decided to steer my life in a different direction. I took it in my own hands and moved to Bucharest with my fiancé.
My biggest challenge so far was discovering and finding myself in the last few months. Five or six months ago, I went through a very difficult period with my personal life which certainly affected my tennis career.
I realized that I want to change, change myself, change the way I do things and have positive people around me. I tried to find a way to discover myself and I had a tough time, on and off the court. I came to a point where it didn’t even make sense to continue playing tennis. Since I started meditating, my mind calmed down. My inner voice started to speak. I had a lot of patience with myself. I started to feel more positive.
I played six semifinals so far, and I’m hoping for a final or a win next time. Of course, being number 1 is the biggest aspiration, but there are some steps before reaching that triumph.
The feeling of playing a match captivates and inspires me. Nothing compares to the emotions of being in front of thousands of people. I recently played at Wimbledon on Court no.1 in front of a big crowd, which was a very powerful experience for me. These kind of moments make me feel like all the hard work is worth it. I also know that achieving my goals can inspire others. Providing others with inspiration keeps me motivated every time I step on the court.
I strongly believe that you need to focus on yourself. Your life is about breaking your own limits and pushing yourself to live your best life. You are not in competition with anyone else, so plan to outdo yourself not other people. Federer said you are playing the ball, not playing your opponent.
I was really happy to discover FRÉ. I was looking for products for professional athletes, for people working out in the sun and sweating. Nothing I used before was as good as FRÉ for active, sweaty skin. I actually found FRÉ online through Instagram. The great part is that the two founders are huge tennis fans!
My biggest skincare challenge is keeping my skin protected from the sun, especially my face. We spend so much time in the sun. It’s difficult to find products that stay on when you play and sweat - I triedPROTECT ME andGLOW ME; both are excellent.DETOX ME is actually the best mask I’ve ever found - it’s so easy to use and you don’t need to keep it on forever to clear your skin.
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