Andre and Isabella Story – This week #StudentSpotlight

Sometimes unanticipated and unexpected events occur in our lives that take us off the path we are meant to follow. The economy, family health issues, lack of access to sports facilities – it becomes a challenge to be all that we can be just facing one of these hardships and even more so when facing all three!

HAT Isabella & AndreBThis is the story of Andre and Isabella B. Both are talented players with super parents, both of whom are successful athletes in their own right. Hit hard by the recession, a parent facing serious health issues, and little to no access to practice facilities has put the B’s in a position needing support.

Relatively new to the game of tennis, both Andre and Isabella have exhibited talent for the sport right away. Andre and Isabella started playing tennis twice a week in a limited amount of Tier Classes in Oct. 2013 and participated in their first tournament in May 2014. In just under one year each has risen up the rankings from not being ranked at all.

Eleven-year old Isabella is #3 in Idaho in singles, #1 in Idaho in doubles and is ranked 442 in National Doubles and 716.1 in National Singles Combined. In the Intermountain rankings, Isabella is 26 in singles and 17 in Doubles. Experiencing a growth spurt, Andre is nearly 6 feet tall at just 14 years old. Quickly adjusting to his new height, Andre ranks #2 in Idaho Doubles and #10 in Idaho Singles in Boys 14. He is also 63rd in Intermountain Singles and 29th in Intermountain Doubles.

Education and tennis are the family’s way of life. A schedule filled with academics, conditioning, and practicing is a regimen HAT AndreBthat is yielding significant results. Days are spent learning, cross training, yoga, and tennis training.

Living in a sparsely populated area of the northwest US with the lowest per capita income, the B’s have very limited access to tennis facilities. Even under these conditions, Andre and Isabella are achieving a good level of success.

Michael Farrington, Site Director and Fitness Coach at HAT, has identified the B’s as possessing the talent and drive to compete at the highest levels of the sport.

“When I first saw Andre play, he played one of our full time students that had about 300 career matches under his belt, while Andre had played in less than 10 tournaments in his tennis career. Needless to say, the match did not go Andre’s way.  I spoke with Andre’s father throughout the entirety of the match and learned more about the difficulty he was experiencing trying to give his kids the best opportunity to be successful in tennis.  A few months later, Andre again played one of our full time students and had a better showing. He was still very raw, but the improvements in his game were noticeable.  Andre had been watching High Altitude Tennis, Steve Smith, and any other tennis videos that contain great information as well as practicing with his sister, on their own, for the past few months.  I rarely see the drive and determination from children (especially as young as Isabella) to do things on their own and practice on their own without a program or tennis professional on court with them.  Isabella is a very talented young lady and looks to have the physical capabilities, drive, and determination to make it to a Division 1 University.  Both Andre and Isabella are immensely smart and work very hard and will certainly flourish in the right environment, if given the chance.”

Isabella B with trophy
Isabella B with trophy

Boise, Idaho lacks a focus on junior tennis and does not have a junior development program. The handful of indoor tennis courts allow for limited court time. The B’s are keenly aware of their extraordinary request for support. Their goal is not only to achieve at the highest levels of the sport, but to also pay-it-forward by supporting others in similar positions in the future.

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#FlashBackSunday

“There are no shortcuts to success”. Watch three trips that helps you become the best player.

“At home in Peru, he rises before school to practise tennis”

Marcos with TrophyAt home in Peru, he rises before school to practice tennis or work out.  After school Marcos plays tennis for two hours followed by an hour of fitness training.  Then it’s dinner, homework, sleep and the whole process starts over again.  His schedule is very demanding, but Marcos will tell you that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is only a part of Marcos’ story.  Traveling to-and-from school and the courts is on foot or by taxi.  “In Peru, some of the streets have trash spread out on the road and you have to know where you are because there are dangerous parts and there is a lot of traffic.  Here, (in the U.S.) everything is really far away so you must have a car so you can manage yourself, (but) everything is so clean.  There is no pollution and everywhere is really safe so you don’t have to worry about your security.”

Having the desire to excel at tennis and realizing that expert training in a safe environment was not possible for him, Marcos reached out to High Altitude Tennis Academy Director, Ryan Segelke.

His first visit in 2013 was for a brief two weeks. “It was such an awesome, life-changing experience”, remembers Marcos.  HAT was then able to obtain funding enabling Marcos to return to the U.S. over his school break in 2014.

The results were not anything less than incredible – for Marcos, for his family, for the coaches and entire HAT Community.  “The first time I played in an indoor tournament, I could feel the rush of adrenaline.”  Training at HAT is hard work, but Marcos is learned so much both on and off the court.  “I love this sport and I never get tired of it.  It teaches me a lot of things, especially to never give up and to fight for your goals not matter what happens because there is always a solution.”

Marcos has set his sights high – wanting to play tennis professionally.  However, he is also quite practical, “My life plan is to try to get a full scholarship to one of the best universities [Division I] so that I can improve my game.  When I finish university I am going to try to play on the professional tennis tour, knowing that when I finish my studies, and if something unexpected happens, I can still work.”