We have heard such great feedback from you on how much you have enjoyed reading about the life of our inPhorm sponsored tennis professional players, that we have asked pro, Sabastiani Leon, to share her story with you. Here is what this multi-cultural and highly fascinating young player had to say:
Sabastiani Leon. Rather a strange name. When you put my face to the name, it raises more confusion. Here’s my story:
Around the 1940’s, my grandparents from both sides of the family immigrated from China to Mexico in search of a better life. They established general stores in the North, bordering American soil. As you know, starting a new life in a foreign country can be difficult. From language to religion, they faced many cultural adversities and some were unpleasant. The Chinese community had to unite. It was them against the world.
Fast forwarding to the marriage of my parents; they had a boy and a girl – Royce and Sabastiani. You may all be thinking… this name sounds Italian. My name originates from my mother’s favorite player from Argentina, Gabriela Sabatini. So, you can say I was destined to play tennis. My parents decided to raise us in California. Since our family lived near the border, we were exposed to both Mexican and American culture, while firmly holding on to our traditional Chinese beliefs.
While my brother was on court training, I was the little girl in pigtails that would be running around chasing yellow fuzzy balls with a big smile on her face. At that moment, I developed a love for the sport. At age 14, I was decent at the game – a late bloomer you might say. I certainly wasn’t number 1 in the nation. But my passion for the game and competitive drive made me hungry to get better. I was out there on that public court grinding until the sun went down.
During my junior years, my Dad exposed me to all types of games. I played both in the U.S. and Mexico. It brought my game to another level, knowing how to read the strengths and weaknesses of my opponents. It also helped me to adapt to playing in different environments. It forced me to find a way to win. It was my first taste of what Professional tennis would be.
At age 17, I had to make an important decision. College or Professional? I decided to take the academic route and the opportunity to play for the Spartans at San Jose State University. I knew I needed to mature as a player and as a person. I certainly became an adult during this transition and my tennis improved tremendously. In a blink of an eye, I earned my degree in four years. The next question was… what now? Then I had a flashback. I remember the excitement of traveling, playing in different cities, the opportunity to be surrounded by different cultures while doing something that I love. I decided to go professional.
Here I am, riding the wave. Looking to improve on and off the court, every day. Putting 100% effort and passion every time I step on that court. I have the courage to rise above all adversities that I’m confronted with, just as my family did.
When I was younger, I always felt out of place. Never felt a sense of real belonging. I was a person who was split into three. I thank the sport of tennis for allowing and helping me to find myself and embrace the different cultures I possess. It allowed me to develop friendships with people around the world with my same love for the sport.
I am so humbly grateful to be part of the inPhorm team. Their continuous support has allowed me to continue to live my dream while looking elegant and stylish.