Some off the toughest times of my life were the times I grew the most. By no means do I want to go back and live those times again, but I would not trade who I am today because of those tough times. I am a better person today because I grew through those challenging times.
I have played a lot of tennis throughout the years. A few years ago, I suffered a major injury to my right shoulder during a doubles match. I tore the shoulder capsule and dislocated my shoulder out towards my back.
I underwent surgery and remember being told afterwards by my father that the surgery may not have been a success. There was more damage than originally anticipated. I spent the next three weeks with my shoulder virtually immobile. I then went through five months of physical therapy. The goal was to keep the shoulder stable and return me to as much range of motion as possible.
All during this time I held a dream inside. I wanted to play tennis again. I wanted to play in the GTE Indy Open which was a semi-pro tournament. I had never played in a semi-pro tournament before. But I believed I could do it. I believed I could overcome this injury and play better than I had ever played before.
After a few months of hard work, I got back on the court and finally in a tournament. Those first few tournaments were rough. My shoulder could only handle so much stress and then I would have to start to serve underhanded to protect my shoulder. Do you know how hard it is to win a match serving underhanded? But I kept at it and my hard work and belief paid off.
Eight months after surgery I stepped onto a very special tennis court. It was a court hosting the GTE Indy Open. I was there! I made it! I got beat first round in singles but I was there. The dream was accomplished. The icing on the cake was teaming up with my good friend Arnel Gallanosa for the doubles competition. We got to the quarterfinals where we played the number one seeded team in the tournament. We got beat that day but what an experience it was. Not bad for a kid who was lying on an operating table just eight months earlier.
The lessons I learned of faith and persistence made all the pain I went through all worthwhile (not fun but worthwhile). When tough times come, hang tough and discover what you can learn because that is the opportunity in disguise.