Growing up, my biggest dream, besides wanting to be a veterinarian, was to become a professional tennis player and compete in the United States. My family does not come from a lot of money and my parents had to work really hard to afford tennis lessons for me. That being said, my family is my biggest fan and they still continue to support me in everything I do. They always believed in my dreams and encouraged my siblings and me to dream big in every aspect of our lives.
So I started studying architecture at one of the best Architecture Colleges in Germany (University of Applied Sciences – Biberach) because I got recruited to play tennis for a team that played in the 3rd League (considered to be a pretty high level) in that city. It allowed me to practice tennis every day after my classes and I spent the rest of my free time teaching tennis to young talents and stringing rackets. This allowed me to enjoy “free” coaching and rackets for myself while still fantasizing about playing college tennis.
Unfortunately, I could not afford a professional service to shoot a demo reel of my tennis skills to submit to American colleges so that I could be considered for tennis scholarships. I did not let that be an obstacle and decided to shoot my own tennis video and submitted it to Division I universities. Little did I know that my decision would attract wholehearted people who wanted to help me with this journey of getting into a prestigious college. Back then, I did not quite understand how my dream came to reality, but looking back, I am convinced that the Law of Attraction works and the Universe gave me what I wanted because I simply asked for it.
I loved my college experience, I made friends for life, I got to travel the states and I grew as a human being. I got to do what I loved with people who loved it as much as I did and today, I still feel extremely proud to be a Cornhusker. It was a journey that changed my life. The Huskers Women’s Tennis Team and Nebraska itself became my second family and taught me a lot about discipline, work ethic and more importantly, it strengthened my commitment to achieve my life goals. During my college years, I met many talented, hard-working and kind human beings such as my assistant coach Hayden Perez, who not only was a coach but also a mentor. He used to say:
I am not worried about you, at all. I know that what you set your mind on, you will achieve.
(Thank you for saying that Coach Perez!) Another person I love to think back on is Tom Osborne, our Athletic Director. He would always hold super early meetings for us student-athletes right before our classes started (I used to dislike attending them because I was convinced they were always about the same thing and I wouldn’t take anything from it; was I wrong!). He would always start by reminding us that we are first students and then athletes, and that is why we are called student-athletes and not the other way around. But he was also the one who encouraged us in his speeches to “dream bigger than big”, “go for it”, “risk, fail, and try again!” and “Never give up!”
I remember the day I left one of the meetings a little bit changed. Somehow, what he said stuck with me, and I was no longer afraid to voice my big dreams or to take greater risks. After all, I have only this life to do it, so why wouldn’t I at least give it a shot.
I acted in the Musical “Grease” in High School in Germany where I discovered my love for acting. However, since tennis was my first passion, I followed it all the way to Nebraska. At UNL, I had the opportunity to take acting classes and minored in theater, thinking that majoring in broadcasting and advertising would offer me a more secure job after college. I worked at NET (Nebraska Educational Television) as a producing intern with my friend Megan (who is still one of my closest friends today) and we talked (probably not too long after Mr. Osborne’s speech) about our dreams that sounded a bit too crazy to follow at that time.
I was sitting in my little cubical and said that I always wanted to pursue acting. That was the evening Megan and I looked up acting schools. Said night, I made the decision to not just dream but move to Los Angeles and get a Masters of Arts in acting.
Being a student-athlete provided me with an amazing work ethic, teamwork, and the belief of doing something not just for personal satisfaction, but for the greater good. Acting is all about living truthfully in the moment and the same goes for tennis and life as a whole. You need to be present in the moment to play at your very best level. Tennis has a lot of parallels. You practice super hard and when you’re on the court to play your match, you just need to let go and believe that all the hard work you put in will show up. After all, that’s when the fun begins and it’s the most amazing feeling to be in the “zone”.
If you are too concerned with the outcome, you end up not only playing against your opponent but against yourself and you will most likely not enjoy the process. Basically, you will miss the whole reason why you are there in the first place, which is “to have fun doing what you love”. I have learned many lessons through tennis and through being a college athlete. It definitely made me a stronger person, an even harder worker, and it broadened my horizon on so many levels. I’m very grateful and immensely appreciative for the things I experienced and got offered. I am incredibly thankful for the amazing athletic department at UNL that still today provides me with a home base and help, if needed.
Tennis and College enriched my life on so many levels and it connected me with many incredible and talented people. Finally, tennis made me feel confident and made me follow my dreams. When I look back at all the things I’ve already got to do and have accomplished, from making my way from a tiny town in Germany to Nebraska, to L.A., to screening my very own short film that I wrote, to producing and acting at THE “Cannes Film Festival”, to writing a full-length feature screenplay, I do feel proud of myself. Tennis brought me all the way around the globe (thanks Mom and Dad for believing and investing in me) and if someone would ask me if I would choose the same path again, I would answer “Heck Yeah – and Go Big Red for Life!”