How A Father-Daughter Bond Is Pushing 19-Year-Old Leylah Fernandez To Tennis Super Stardom
The 19-year-old tennis champion Leylah Fernandez – who is of Ecuadorian and Filipina heritage – is all over sports headlines as she is crushing once-dominant players on the court. In fact, she recently knocked off the two-time champion Naomi Osaka during a match at the U.S. Open. It’s obvious that at just 19, this tennis great has a bright future ahead of her.
So what’s the reason behind her incredible success? Well, at least partially, a powerful father-daughter relationship that has helped instill confidence and talent in young Fernandez.
19-year-old Leylah Fernandez is making tennis history.
Leylah Fernandez has already grabbed headlines around the world for her incredible tennis skills, making it to the finals at the Australian Open in Melbourne and winning the Juniors’ Title at the French Open. But her success as the U.S. Open has come as a surprise to many.
Fernandez came into the U.S. Open ranked 73rd. Nothing suggested she was about to knock out some of the world’s tennis greats. Of course, she had demonstrated her skill but few could have expected the performance she’s given in New York. Just this year, she’s lost to seven players and it was only in March that she won her first title, in Monterrey, Mexico.
But just like that she’s powered through and has now knocked out No. 3 Naomi Osaka, No. 17 Angelique Kerber and Svitolina from the competition in New York. Those who doubted the capabilities of the 5-foot-6 player to take on the so-called “big girls” are now left scratching their heads.
The tennis champ credits much of her success to her special father-daughter relationship.
Fernandez comes from a family of athletes. The Canadian-born champion has an Ecuadorian father and Filipina mother – both of whom moved to Canada to pursue a better life. Her father Jorge is a former professional soccer player who played throughout South America, who now serves as Leylah’s coach.
Her father has been dedicated to her tennis career ever since. Perhaps because he also was just a teen when he made it big – signing his first professional soccer contract at the age of 13.
In fact, it was after Leylah was expelled from the Canadian tennis program that her father took over the leadership role and began an exhaustive training program. Although he had little knowledge of the sport, he knew the level of dedication and mental strength required to make it big. Turns out his experience in soccer and learning to use patience to dictate play helped make him into an excellent tennis coach and the pair make an excellent duo.
Though many on the court have expressed concern at Jorge’s tough coaching methods. Jorge recognizes that it’s difficult for kids to grasp the concept of pressure and stress. He felt it was important to convey that in simple terms kids understand: good gets rewarded and bad gets punished. Leylah would often end up in tears, but he wouldn’t let up.
“He just wants me to improve, keep correcting, keep competing,” Leylah told the CBC. “He said that’s going to happen a lot, that he’s going to put me in uncomfortable positions during practice and it’s up to me to fight through it and find solutions,” she added.
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