Leylah Fernandez proving doubters wrong with amazing US Open run

Published September 11, 2021, 3:32 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Leylah Fernandez cannot help but recall the time when many of the people surrounding her were doubtful of her career as a tennis player.

Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada celebrates winning match point to defeat Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during her Women’s Singles semifinals match on Day Eleven of the 2021 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 9, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (AFP)

One vivid and memorable example for Fernandez was a grade school teacher, who told her she has no future in the sport.

READ: Leylah Fernandez: True potential on full display at US Open

At that time, it wasn’t funny at all, said Fernandez. But she used those lines as a motivation to do better off and, most especially, on the court.

Now, she has proved the doubters wrong, including her former teacher, by advancing to the final of the prestigious US Open.

READ: Leylah Fernandez wants to be a role model for fellow teenagers

“I think that the obvious one was a lot of people doubted me and my family in my dreams,” said the 19-year-old Fernandez, who just celebrated her birthday five days ago, Sept. 6. “They kept saying no. That I’m not gonna be a professional tennis player [and] that I should stop and I should just pursue going to school.

“I remember one teacher, which is actually very funny. At that time wasn’t. But right now I’m laughing coz she told me to ‘stop playing tennis, you will never make it and just focus on school’ and I’m just glad that she told me that coz everyday I had that phrase, that saying I’m gonna keep going, I’m gonna push through, and I’m gonna prove to her that everything that I’ve dreamed of, I’m going to achieve them,” added the Canadian netter of Filipino descent.

READ: Curious Fernandez wants to learn more about Filipino food, culture

Fernandez, however, said that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as her struggles heading into the professional scene are concerned.

But she had to give that much-needed pat on her back for her achievements at age 19.

READ: Teen Fernandez’s US Open final run a family affair

“I think now I can say that I’ve done a pretty good job in achieving my dreams,” said Fernandez, who will face 18-year-old British opponent Emma Raducanu in the final at the Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, New York City Saturday there (Sunday in Manila).

Fernandez is just one win away from bagging her first Grand Slam and the road wasn’t as easy as it seems as she defeated the likes of world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, former world No. 1 and 16th-seed Angelique Kerber of Germany, and Japanese sensation and third-seeded Naomi Osaka.