Impossible is nothing: Using a positive mindset to pursue a professional Tennis career with Alex Hunt!
By Coach Jonah
Professional Tennis player, Alex Hunt, was born without a left arm and continues to show the world that anything is possible if you set your mind to it!
Born in Nelson, New Zealand, Alex grew up playing tennis and is defying the odds to pursue a professional Tennis career. Travelling the world, Alex managed to win his first ATP Point in Guam, 2017 and has since become Wilson ambassador. Alex also recently spent a life changing week on tour in the USA, interviewing and playing with top professionals, such as Stefanos Tsitsipas (World No. 5), Alex de Minaur (World No. 18), Kei Nishikori (currently world no. 26) and Madison Keys (highest woman ranking no. 7).
We caught up with him to hear about his journey and share with you what he has learnt.
Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself:
I was born on a farm in Nelson, New Zealand. My Family of 5 all play tennis and I started when I was a toddler.
I was a little bit different to others as I was born with one arm, I stuck to it and eventually decided to go to college in the USA. After this I went on tour and was the first physically disabled player in the world to get an ATP point. One thing I find interesting is that I grew up always acting as if I were the same as everyone, I didn’t let it hold me back, which was great because I didn’t use my arm as an excuse to not do anything.
My parents were awesome - but I’ve probably only recently started to realise that “hell yeah” I am different and I can change other people's lives by getting my story out there. I’m now starting to get into inspirational speaking as well as playing on tour. It’s a dream to be getting messages from other disabled kids or their parents saying that I’ve given them hope and shown them that their kid can also live a normal life.
Playing at the top level takes commitment, what does a normal training day look like for you? (Training)
That’s a tough question because training during the year can be so different. Pre season is always a lot tougher and physically challenging.
A normal day of training would probably look somewhat like:
During a tournament week or in the lead up to tournaments we would be doing a lot more match play, points structured drills and a lot of hitting.
Tennis is a very physically demanding sport, tell us about your nutrition on competition day? (Nutrition)
This is another good question and is something that you have to get a feel for with your different body. It takes a lot of trial and error - especially when you are in different countries where they have different food/spices etc. For me it starts the day before (and obviously the weeks before that) but the night before a match I like to have some sort of pasta, or spaghetti.
In the morning I would not eat too heavy as I don’t like my stomach to still be processing - I like toast and eggs, with some oats if possible, and a banana. But it changes all the time.
You’ve overcome many obstacles in your life, how do you prepare your mind for challenge? (Mindset)
That differs a lot in different situations but I would like to think I go in with confidence and a mindset that I can overcome the challenge… but that is easier said than done. Often our first move is to “freak out, and say we cant do something” but it's often in that moment where you have to catch yourself and put a different spin on the situation. One moment that sticks out for me is when I was sitting in High School Physical Education class and the teacher told us we had to do golf for our paper.. I completely freaked out. My first thought was, no, not golf… I can't play golf with one arm. I jumped in my car after class and raced home so I could go out on the farm with dad's golf clubs and see if I could do it. I wasn’t very good. I went out every day with a bucket of balls until I was good. I went to class the next semester and got excellence. It's little things like this that would never happen without the change of mindset. You have to give things a go, and understand that it is okay to fail.
What do you do to recover from a heavy training block, or a competition? (Recovery)
On my days off the only physical thing I would do is a very light jog or a walk, otherwise I will just stretch and blob out. If I am overseas I will often check out the city or do some sightseeing. Recovery is very important and I'll often try to find a steam room/sauna and do stretching in there. I find it very good for the muscles and body. I also get massages sometimes if I have had a tough week.
How does it feel being the brand ambassador for Wilson Tennis?
Yes! It has been amazing. I have used Wilson rackets for most of my life, as have my family. It has been an absolute dream to be apart of #TeamWilson.
As an ambassador we do a lot of testing for new gear, and also help launch it on social media. I was lucky enough to go to their annual photoshoot at Indian Wells and meet most of the players, getting on court with them which was special. Wilson is one of the greatest brands and for them to see my story and give me this opportunity is so special.
I have a lot of respect for the brand and everyone behind the scenes! Legendary people.
Any tips you can give to the Train to play community?
There will always be things or people trying to hold you back or being successful… find a way to turn that negative energy into positives. Mindset is one thing that you can control, and it's one of the most important things for an athlete, and person in general. Be confident and fearless!
Nice! Where can we find you to find more about you and follow your progress?
You can find me on social media @alexhunttennis
Finally, can you share with us one quote that you live by?
“I think a strong positive attitude is everything, you can go around thinking I can’t do this, I can’t do that. But if you just give it a go and challenge yourself - then you do realize that you can do that.”
Alex is part of the Train To Play Athlete team and will be joining us for a talk about mindset, growth and self belief when he’s back in Thailand!
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