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Noah Rubin’s “Behind The Racquet” • With • Danilo Petrovic | Tennis 10sBalls

Editor’s note: 10sBalls thanks Noah Rubin for giving us permission to repost these great stories.

“My father died from a heart attack when I was 15 years old. I am not from a wealthy family. My mother supported school while my father supported tennis. My father loved all sports and worked with a national dance crew. I was in the middle of puberty when he passed and I lost my court title. I stopped playing tennis and started hanging with a bad crowd. I wanted to be part of a group. I searched for an adrenaline rush to replace playing a sport. 

I had to start working as a coach. My uncle heard I was planning to quit tennis because we had no money. He contacted the owner of ISP Tennis Academy in France who looked at my results and offered me a full scholarship. At age 18, I won my first ATP point. I made the quarterfinals of the strongest futures events in the country. Nike approached my sponsor and I signed my first contract in France. My sponsor paid for everything. I did not want to spend his money for plane tickets to go home so I spent the holidays with his family. We had a father-son relationship. At age 20, I broke into the Top 400 and could afford to pay on my own. 

I got a call from the Davis Cup captain who asked if I wanted to be an extra player for Serbia. I joined the team with players like Djokovic and Tipsarevic. We signed advertising contracts. I was excited to invest this money and achieve a new level of life. I planned to hire a coach, move out of my academy dorm and live in Serbia. But then I had a few bad tournaments. I needed to help my family but I had spent all of my money. I returned to coaching and my ranking dropped outside of the Top 800. I almost quit tennis again. Then the director of Red Star Tennis Club and my fitness coach said they would train me for free. I won the next futures event in singles and doubles and was named the ITF Player of the Month. Last year, I almost quit tennis again after I spent all my money and my ranking dropped outside the Top 300. A close friend offered to lend me money to finish the season but I won the next challenger event. He still lent me money. I ended the year happy. Now I pay less attention to money because I know it comes and goes. It depends on your mindset and how much money you are willing to save versus how much you are willing to sacrifice. It also depends on how much you are willing to work. 

My father’s passing makes me who I am. I do not think about my past because it adds pressure. I do not know why. I sacrificed a normal life to be a tennis player and reached the bottom of tennis where I had nothing. Even when you are in the Top 300, you cannot lift your head up because you are losing so much money. This situation has improved in other sports but tennis is changing very slowly. This frustrates me more than any break point or lost match. We deserve to know where the money is going and we will fight together.”

Danilo Petrovic (@danilo_petrovic24)


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