Some people discover their passions at an early age. Others find their comfort zones late in life. For freshman Conrad Russell, tennis has always been the only thing in his life – it runs in his blood. Born to two avid tennis players, Russell started the sport at the mere age of four, and since then has barreled his way to the top. From local tournaments to national championships, Russell has seen it all. His strong work ethic and unending determination have propelled him to fourth in the entire nation, and will serve him well as he aims to reach the number one spot in the U.S.
Russell knows all too well the dedication and sacrifice necessary to get to where he is. “Tennis take a lot of time and repetition – I train more than fifteen hours per week,” Russell said. Training for the nationally ranked player requires two coaches, endless drills and intense physical workouts. Such demanding routines requires Russell to sacrifice a large portion of free time, but according to Russell, also boost him closer and closer to his goal of becoming the number one nationally ranked singles player. Russell said that while he does lose time with his friends and family, he is willing to make sacrifices to pursue his passion. “In tennis, you’re the only one on the court, so you have complete control of your own destiny – no excuses are allowed,” Russell said.
Apart from dominating in various tournaments throughout the year, including the Usta Hard Court National Championships in San Antonio, Texas, Russell said his best memory is of his winning match in the Gold Ball Tournament, the most prestigious tournament in the nation. According to Russell, he and his partner, Ivan Thamma overcame a match point favoring the opposing team to become the number one doubles team in the nation. “It was a huge accomplishment, and I just loved seeing all of our hard work paying off,” Russell said.
Russell plans on continuing with tennis throughout the rest of his high school career, as well as college. “Tennis is my passion, and I hope that I get the chance to continue pursuing this passion,” Russell said. He is considering playing professionally after college.
For Russell, tennis has served not only as a passion and sport, but also as a mechanism of learning. “Tennis has taught me so much. I have learned to never make excuses, because there is no one to blame in tennis but yourself,” Russell said. He attributes his philosophy on life to his experience in the sport, and encourages aspiring athletes to persevere. “Hard work will pay off. If you practice long and hard, anything can be accomplished,” Russell said, “No excuses.”