Sloane Stephens Reflects On Mental Health In Tennis Ahead Of US Open - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens Reflects On Mental Health In Tennis Ahead Of US Open

Sloane Stephens talks all things mental health ahead of the US Open.

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Sloane Stephens (@CJ_mag - Twitter)

Sloane Stephens has reflected on Tennis’ role in the battle with mental health ahead of the start of the US Open.

The 2017 champion is preparing for the last grand slam of the season as she prepares to take on Madison Keys in a rematch from the scene where she won her maiden grand slam.

As well as being a tennis player, Stephens is also a member of the WTA players council which plays a major role in all issues in society and how tennis can help.

One of the main issues due to the pandemic is mental health and the American recently spoke about how its effected the tennis community, “I’m on the [Women’s Tennis Association] Players’ Council, so I think we see a lot of concerns and complaints — not complaints — but like what people think about issues that have happened or things that are currently happening,” the American told People.com.

“And I think that obviously, we can do better to support each other. I think getting through that and trying to navigate this process as a competitor, but also like as just a normal human being who has feelings and emotions… Yeah, it’s been difficult. But I think everyone’s tried hard and you offer your support where you can.

“If you’re struggling and you need to get it out, why would you just sit and wallow? Maybe there’s someone else that can help you, maybe there’s someone that you can talk to, maybe there’s someone that has gone through the same thing and can offer you advice and support and whatever that may be.

“I’ve been in a place where it’s been dark and it’s been deep and it’s been sad. I’m like, ‘I need to get out of that place.’ But you know you’re stuck there if you don’t talk to anyone and no one knows what you’re going through.

“I think that younger athletes are not told enough that ‘It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be happy, it’s okay to show your emotion.’ And no one I feel like in the sports industry is comforting in that. It’s always like ‘This decision, this moment it’s going to affect you for the rest of your life.’ That’s the type of pressure people feel and they pretend to be okay. You end up in a space or a position where you just don’t feel good and you don’t feel good mentally and you don’t feel good physically. Then you can’t perform.”

Recently Venus Williams pledged 2 million dollars to free mental health therapy to ensure that tennis doesn’t struggle with these problems.

The ATP also revealed a whole range of initiatives to help players relax and look after their mental health.

It’s quite clearly a topic that still needs a lot of thought put in by tennis’ governing bodies to make players feel comfortable and be ok with talking about their mental health.

Speaking ahead of the US Open, the American is just happy to be playing in front of full capacity crowds again, “I think, at this point, everyone, like nobody has anything to lose. Like we’d just been in a pandemic,” the former champion said.

“It’s the first time we’ll have fans. There’ll be a lot of energy, the atmosphere will be great. And I think people will really look to take advantage of the situation. We’re excited that now it’s happening again. And we have fans again and we’re able to have that feeling and feel that rush again and that atmosphere and it’s exciting.”

Sloane Stephens will play her first round match against good friend Madison Keys on Monday.

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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