What is RealYou?
RealYou is a project that was founded by myself and my good friend, Stephanie Hughes. Our aim is to support young women through the notoriously challenging phase of life known as teenagehood. With an unacceptably high suicide rate in our country, and youths facing a constant stimulus of images and pressure to fit in, we felt another option was required. An option where young women can learn about growing their inner confidence and develop tools for coping with stress, anxiety and relationships.
We launched the site in October 2016, and so far in 2017 I have been the guest speaker at school breakfasts, assemblies and to groups of athletes, sharing about overcoming my own challenges with anxiety, low self-esteem, body image difficulties and loneliness as a teenager.
It's amazing to see how well the girls respond to talking openly about topics that are very relatable to most women. The feedback has been fantastic and Steph and I are now aiming to grow our workshops for teenagers, which is what the proceeds of our tennis clinic will be supporting!
If you'd like to know more, please do get in touch! You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.orgAnd for those who are interested, here is a little story about how GD and I came to be professional tennis players!
Whilst G honed his game, I found my spot nestled happily in the ball basket, or in the corner playing with the excess sand built up on my grandparents Astro Turf court.
I really idolised my brother and when I was 9 and he was 13, we visited a tennis academy in Florida for 3 months. It was then that I decided to follow in his footsteps and try to become a professional tennis player too.
Between us, we have collected over 14 national titles (honestly, I've lost count) and played for our country on numerous occasions. I was the youngest player ever to win the NZ 18 & Under nationals at 13 years old, and I went on to reach a world ITF Junior ranking of 11, and a WTA ranking of 150. One of my proudest accomplishments, however, is helping the Sunnyhills Caro Bowl team win 3 back to back titles
GD played passionately for NZ the Davis Cup team, in 2007 he qualified for the Heineken Open in and later, he went on to coach former top 20 ATP player, Kevin Anderson, taking him from outside the top 60 to the brink of the top 20 in the world.
He also had the huge pleasure of coaching his little sister! Yours truly.
And, let me tell you, nothing quite cements the brother-sister bond like travelling around the world together for three years in your early 20's.
I don't think I will ever forget those years. From winning our first five tournaments in a row together to sharing a tiny wardrobe-sized room in Japan for a month; where the toilet was literally in the middle of the room (gross!). We learnt a great deal about ourselves and made memories that will last a lifetime.
Now, it feels only fitting that we pass some of the knowledge that we had the privilege of learning, onto our young Kiwi prospects. As well as his full time job, GD as spent a lot of the last two years coaching our top talent and making a difference to the tennis community through his role on the board of Tennis NZ.
I have been coaching and mentoring some of our young juniors too and more recently, I co-founded a project called, RealYou. I spend a lot of time speaking in schools and running workshops for young women struggling with many of the same issues I faced as a teenager such as anxiety, peer pressure and low self-esteem. It's awesome and I absolutely love connecting with the girls, sharing my experiences and seeing their confidence and happiness grow as a result of our interactions!
We hope that you will join us at Sunnyhills Tennis Club on Sunday, 30th April at 10am for an awesome tennis clinic!
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