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Noah Rubin’s “Behind The Racquet” • With • Barbora Strycova | Tennis 10sBalls

Editor’s note: 10sBalls thanks Noah Rubin for giving us permission to repost these great stories. We wish him and this endeavor the best of luck. Great seeing Noah wearing K-Swiss and playing Solinco Strings.

“When I was 12, I had to make a decision between tennis and figure skating; I decided to go with tennis. It was my choice, not my parents. It’s not as easy as people may think, it’s so freaking hard. It’s not always beautiful hotels or traveling to nice places. I was 16 and number one in the world in juniors. Within a year, I was #56 in WTA rankings and then everything went down. I went through tough times when I was 20. I was 20 years old when I got married. I was so in love. We only knew each other three months before marriage. We were together eight years before divorce. We both knew we were very young when it all started, but it was what we truly wanted. I was one of the few 20 year olds who rather have kids than travel and see players. I wanted to end my career and didn’t want to continue playing. I didn’t want to do it any longer. I couldn’t take traveling to different hotels every week and not remembering my room number. I was winning so often as a junior, and then it just stops. You start questioning the reason for it, that you must not be good or you don’t belong. Everyone has these thoughts. The belief in yourself is lost. That was when I dropped to 220 in the world, it happened so fast. I had to start over at 25, luckily with some good people around me. I am now 34 years old and love the sport more than ever. It also helps that this is one of the few things I know how to do well. It took some time away from the sport to realize just what tennis means to me. You start to realize, ‘Oh, my God. I miss it. I miss this adrenaline. I missed this sport.’ There is no feeling like winning a match, it’s incredible. You will never have this again in your career. I love proving to myself that I can still do it. I always found the strength in the fact that tennis is what I love, even though it seemed I hated at times. I try to remind myself how much I will miss it when I don’t have it anymore. This will and inner power comes from my parents. My father had an awful accident before I was born. Doctors told him he would never walk again. He was working in the mines and everything fell on him. They took him out and quickly found out his legs didn’t function. It took him two years, in the hospital, with so much work, to prove the doctors wrong. From not being able to use his legs to teaching himself to walk and eventually even snowboard, all comes from his inner strength. His belief to not give in, has motivated me throughout my life. The last two years I have been very happy with myself and what I am doing. There are definitely times when it’s hard for me to travel, but I am picking only tournaments where I am happy to be at. When I am excited to be there is when I play my best. Through happiness I am playing my best tennis and it is showing in my results. It took some time to figure out how little the results mean though and that happiness should come first. Problems are highlighted in the tennis world, which is a fake world. Younger players think it will come easy and quickly, but it took me years to get to where I am today. You have to find what works for you with practice and travel. I had to find my own way and I think I finally found the right way for me.” Barbora Strycova (barborastrycova)

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