Romana Caroline Tabak is a name that does not sound new to tennis experts and many fans.
The Slovak, born in 1991, is a former junior Wimbledon semi-finalist, her career best ranking as a professional player came a couple of years ago, when she reached the number 240, but ever since she has almost disappeared.
Having conquered the hearts of many fans –and not only, as many remember a rumoured story with Grigor Dimitrov- thanks to her beauty and aggressive tennis, Tabak played her last ITF match in September 2012, but her problems had begun way before.
The 23 year old had struggled with injuries in her first few years as a pro and when things started to pick up, she contracted a severe form of Lyme disease during a successful series of tournaments in America.
The fall in the ranking and the struggle to heal properly left her with no sponsors and so playing tennis became more and more hard for her.
“As I was forced to deal with a high stage of Lyme disease and no sponsors, my parents have been more for studying on college after all those injuries,” she told me.
|All Pictures credits to: Martin Halik|
“I am currently studying in New York, where I play college matches against other schools and we travel a lot, so I had time to explore New York and other states.”
She was not too sure when she left for the States, but she told me how things suddenly changed in her life.
“Now I feel great,” she said: “I see life from different perspective. After I stopped playing tennis, God blessed me and I started to believe in Jesus Christ for this blessing.
“I’m so thankful my life is so much easier and full of joy. After studying maybe I will return to professional tennis, depends on how I will feel and how the situation will be.”
She added: “With God everything is possible, sky is the limit. I was really surprised how many successful people such as Michael Chang, Bono from U2, American football team Seattle Seahawks, who won Super Bowl this year, Johnny Cash and many others are true believers...it’s amazing!
“To all my friends who are coming to visit New York, I recommend to come to Times Square Church and see the amazing sermons.”
She used her free time for charity too. She said: “I had the chance, last year in India, to be part of a mission trip, where we served and helped sick and poor people.”
Does that mean that we will never see her fighting for her childhood dream of becoming a top tennis player? Maybe not.
“I am missing competitive life and co-operation with my coach Martin Zathurecky,” she said: “Tennis is pure joy for me since I was a young girl.
“Tennis taught me what love is, tennis gave me the ability to travel around the world and explore other cultures. Tennis keeps me living my dream and kept me from living the life that any other teenager did.”
She know that a comeback would be hard, after many injuries she knows what it is like: “The hardest thing is the lack of confidence and on top of that you are scared that you may get injured again.”
It is not a comeback, but the past weekend she came back to Europe and played in the German Regional-liga for the LTTC Rot-Weiß Berlin, where she won her debut match over Carolin Schmidt, world number 1263, 6-1 6-1.
“I enjoyed every moment in my tennis career, even when I was up or down,” she said: “So now I would like to graduate and after my studies, maybe, I will return to tennis, but for sure at some point I would like to be in charge of charities, serving and helping people and for sure one day to have a big family.”