Triumphs of Immigrant Tennis Players

AP/ Frank Franklin II, file

Triumphs of Immigrant Tennis Players

If you look at the backgrounds of the players in the ATP and WTA tour, you’ll see a trend.

Everywhere you look, you’ll see players from immigrant backgrounds reaching the very top. Just recently, we saw Emma Raducanu play Leylah Fernandez for the US Open title. Emma’s mom is Chinese and her father Romanian, while Leylah’s dad is originally from Ecuador and her mom is from the Philippines. Emma’s family emigrated to England while Leylah’s emigrated to Canada. Naomi Osaka is another example, with her mom hailing from Japan and her father from Haiti.

In the ATP tour there’s a lot of the same, with Felix Auger-Aliassime’s father emigrating to Canada from Togo, while Shapovalov emigrated from Israel at the age of one year old. Alexander Zverev’s parents are Russian immigrants who settled in Germany.

This is not a new trend either. In the late 80s and 90s, there was Andre Agassi, who had an Armenian father, Michael Chang with Chinese parents, and Pete Sampras with Greek parents. There are countless other examples. So why are there so many immigrants with amazing success? A lot of it probably has to do with the struggle and challenges that many have to succeed in a foreign land.

Often, immigrants have to work twice as hard to get ahead due to language and cultural barriers. This work ethic to get ahead may be one of the reasons the sons and daughters of immigrants fare so well on the tennis court. After all, tennis is an individual sport, and players have to contend with the fact that it is them against everyone else. Many players talk about how lonely it can be playing on the tour. Because of the individual nature of the sport, their parents end up being their support system, and many times their coaches on tour.

Who better than to give advice on adversity and personal strife than successful immigrants that have the experience to provide advice and a way forward? Maybe the unique makeup of the immigrant experience makes it ideal for coaching and guiding tennis players through the WTA and ATP tour. Nevertheless, it sure is fun hearing about and watching all these great immigrant stories on the tennis tour.

Like always, don’t forget to jump on to the TennisPAL app to stay up to date on tennis news, find groups of friends to play with, and get a virtual coach to help with your tennis game.


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