Meet 15-year-old Daniel Labrador who shares how tennis has played an important role in his life.
Question: Where are you from?
Answer: I was born and raised in Tampa. Both of my parents were born in Venezuela and part of my dad’s side of the family comes from Spain.
Question: How long have you been playing tennis and how did you get started?
Answer: I have been playing tennis since I was 5 years old and I started playing tournaments when I was 8. I started playing tennis because I saw some kids doing a clinic in my neighborhood and I decided to give it a try and I really enjoyed it. I was playing tennis, baseball, soccer and swimming all at the same time, so I had to chose one sport and I chose tennis.
Question: Where do you play?
Answer: I have practiced tennis most of my life in Tampa, but recently I have been training in Delray Beach with a private coach. I have been playing tournaments all around Florida and the country. For example, I have traveled to California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and Arizona to play tournaments. I also had the opportunity to play two tournaments in Spain this summer. Playing on red clay was an amazing experience.
Question: Why did you choose tennis and what do you like the most about this sport?
Answer: I chose to play tennis because I simply loved the sport and because everything was based on me. For example, in baseball, I had to wait long periods of time before I got to bat, catch, or make any type of play. In tennis, I was playing every single point. If I won or lost, it was based on my effort and my decisions. This is also what I like most about the sport. It is very tough to play because you are by yourself, but that is also the beauty of the sport.
Question: What has been your best accomplishment as a tennis player?
Answer: I would say that my best accomplishment as a tennis player wouldn’t really be a result from a tournament or anything like that. I would consider my best accomplishment being the way tennis has shaped me into the person I am today. Tennis has shaped me into the person I am today in many aspects. It has taught me discipline, responsibility, how to become stronger mentally and physically, integrity and much more. All of these characteristics are things I take pride in about myself and they came from years of tennis.
Question: What are your main goals in tennis?
Answer: My main goal in tennis is to become a professional and play on the tour. A bit of a more short-term goal would be to play college tennis in a Division I university. These are both goals that require a lot of work and dedication, but that is what separates the good from the great.
Question: Why do you think is good for children and their families to play tennis?
Answer: I think that it is great for families to play tennis. Tennis is a sport that can be played by people of all ages and is a great way to go out and exercise and have some fun.
Question: What message do you have for other Hispanic families who are looking for a sport for their kids?
Answer: My message to other Hispanic families that are looking for a sport for their kids is to just go out and try. When I was trying out sports, I tried tennis, baseball, swimming, soccer, and basketball. It just came down to which sport I enjoyed the most. Never force your child to play any sport. Playing the sport should be a choice and not an obligation.
Question: Who is your favorite pro player and why?
Answer: My favorite pro player is Rafael Nadal. Nadal is my favorite player because I love his style of play. He gives 100 percent on every single shot, point, and match that I have seen him play. His fighting spirit is absolutely incredible and his passion for the sport is amazing. On top of these things, Nadal is a gentleman. Nadal shows respect to everyone, even though he is one of the best players to play the game. These characteristics are the ones that make him my favorite player.