Meet Daniella Dimitrova, a 13 year old tennis player with the future brightly ahead of her. She is currently attending the Barcelona Tennis Academy, where she has been training since 2012, and her determination to succeed combined with her on-court vitality means she has what we like to call passionfire.
Dani was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to a Russian mother and Bulgarian father. She began playing tennis at 6 and a half, training at Houston Tennis Academy in 2010 and becoming a full-time player at International Tennis USA before joining the BTA. She has since represented Bulgaria, becoming number 1 in the country’s rankings in 2014, and was invited to represent the Bulgarian National Team in the European Summer Cups where she came first in both singles and doubles. Other notable achievements include winning the singles, doubles and mixed doubles at the Little Mo Internationals in Florida and coming first in the Bulgarian Winter Nationals. This year she has been a doubles champion at both Svilengrad Cup and the Sport Palace cup. Whether it’s singles or doubles, if there’s competition involved, Dani is there.
On court, her footwork is fast paced as though moving on eternal energy and she follows the ball with purposeful precision. On her social media accounts, the enthusiasm for the sport is evident- Clips of her training will be captioned with inspirational quotes such as ‘Shut everything else and go for it’ (Serena Williams) and ‘You never fail until you stop trying’ (Einsteen). But what goes through the mind of a normal, bubbly thirteen year old with aspirations to be a professional tennis player? We caught up with Dani to find out!
Hi, Dani! So what would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
I’ve gotten more mature over the years, even months, with everything. Especially with discipline and diet.
What inspires you to play the sport?
That I’m getting better every single day.
When stepping onto the court, what kind of emotions go through your mind
I’m trying to feel confident, to feel like the boss on the court.
How do you prepare for a match? Do you listen to music and if so what’s your go to song?
Before a match I try not to think about it so that I don’t get too stressed out. Usually I play games on my phone or read my book.
You’re from Louisville so how does it feel to be so far from home or does Barcelona feel more like home now?
The funny thing is that when I’m in Barcelona for over six months without going to the US, I feel a bit home sick. But when I do go back home to Louisville it feels like I got back in touch with my roots again, seeing my grandparents, pets, my house, the atmosphere, etc. But usually (almost always) when I am in Kentucky, I have a two/three-week break from tennis. When those two weeks are over, it feels like I’m home sick from Barcelona as well. So when I get back, it feels like I’ve come home to a fresh start.
That’s funny. It’s like you have two different lives. Your ordinary thirteen year old one and then tennis player mode. Each, I image, are equally special. So, in tennis player mode, you compete in both singles and doubles. How do the two compare for you?
Singles is my main priority in tournaments. Doubles on the other hand is almost like practice for me because I could be working on some shots.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Watching TV shows, relaxing, and doing my nails. But, surprisingly, when I don’t have trainings, I don’t like to do anything. For example, I don’t like to walk around the town, shopping or fishing at the end of the week when I’m tired.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened on court?
So when my friend was playing a point I just wanted to shadow her strokes (as a joke) and she hit an approach and went to the net, then when the other player hit a lob, she missed it so I decided to run from across the court and try to get it.. until I trip over my own feet and do a face plant on the court and slide a good meter across the court.
Hahaha, oopsie! There must be many tennis players that inspire you. Who do you admire the most and why?
I love Rafa Nadal because I love his attitude on the court when he’s on fire. I even remember this year when I went to the Barcelona Open; I was watching the match that he lost and at one point when he went for the changeover, I saw the original Rafa Vamos. It was exciting to see him like that in this situation.
Finally, what are your dreams for the future?
To be number one in the world.
Words by Frankie
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