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  • Writer's pictureMariska Venter

Life of an Athlete

Updated: Jan 4, 2019

Sport has always been part of my life. My parents were very active and fit and were great athletes in their sport, my brothers followed in their footsteps and soon after I did as well.

I started with wheelchair tennis in 2010 and ever since I hit my first ball I have never stopped playing tennis. Soon I reached my highest achievement yet and I was ranked the nr 1 O/18 junior girl in the world in 2012. That was the moment I knew I was meant for achieving even greater things in my sport.

After school I pursued a full time athletics career and moved to Pretoria to start training with my team of experts who had the challenge to turn me from a junior player into a senior player in only two years.

I trained 15 hours a week and when I was not home busy training I was on tour competing in tournaments.

I have travelled to 17 different countries and I have taken part in 45 tours overseas.

So right about now people always are amazed by the fact that we get to travel and see the world and are jealous of our lifestyle.

Yes it is true we get to travel the world doing the sport we love but we don’t see the world through a tourist point of view.

When we go on tour that is when all the hard work and effort you put in at home has to come up and be displayed, that is when we do our work we are there to compete and get results.

Most countries I’ve been to I only know what the airport hotel and tennis court looks like. You have endless days of traveling and then once you get to your destination you are at the tennis courts all day, sometimes even at night and then you spend the remainder of your time in the hotel to try and recover for the next day.

After 8 years of travelling as a tennis player I have come to a conclusion on the best and worst thing of “the tennis tour”

The worst is that tennis is a very lonely sport. Of course tennis is an individual sport so you don’t have teammates and friends with you to explore and have fun and share experiences with. I have been travelling alone now for 4 years and it really gets emotionally draining.

I have to be so strong and confident, mentally and emotionally to constantly travel and compete all by myself while my entire support team is back home and all my opponents have their support with them.

I have seen so many amazing places around the world but I would rather choose to stay stuck in one city but you get to share it with your friends and family than travel the world but you have no one to share it with.

And then the thing I love most about “the tennis tour” is the fact that I get to meet people from all over the world with different cultures, beliefs and traditions, I love exploring the streets and get a sense of the lifestyles, architecture, food and fashion of the world.

The life of an athlete is not easy or glamorous. It is only made to look that way on social media.

It takes sacrificing all the time, every day. You constantly have to train your body to be stronger and fitter. You have to watch what you eat, you can’t stay out too late because you have to be at training the next day. You miss out on having a typical care free college life and so much more.

With tennis you can be doing everything right and still lose, and that right there; that is what messes you up in your head, that is why you have to work on your mental toughness every day.

You have constant pressure thrown at you from all sides of the spectrum and this is not even counting in the pressure you can put onto yourself.

But even after all that, I would still not exchange this life for a different one.

I love sport, I love being active, I love training so hard that I can barely move the next day, I love improving my skills and abilities, I love the thrill of the game. I love the passion and intensity, I love tennis, I love what I do because the moment I get onto the court I feel like an athlete.

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