Meet Jelena from Serbia.
The one word that best describes Jelena's life today is "Amazing." The reason why Jelena chose this word is because of the beautiful coastline of Laguna Beach.
If Jelena could change one thing in the world, she would "Want everyone in the world to speak one language." The way she would go about making this change is through education.
One year from today, Jelena would like for her college tennis team to win the NCAA title for women's tennis. And remain healthy and happy along the way.
If Jelena's life were a movie, it would be about her pursuit of a tennis career and living on her own at the age of 15 where she had to take care of herself. The title of her movie would be called "On My Own."
I met Jelena and her teammates as they were standing on the waters edge on Main Beach in front of the Hotel Laguna.
Out of the three girls, Jelena was the least interested in answering my questions but she warmed up after awhile and seemed to have fun engaging in our group conversation.
Jelena shared with me the challenges of growing up playing tennis without her parents by her side and how so many kids take for granted their parents who wait on their kids hand and foot. We talked about the sacrifices she's made and at times how lonely and difficult it is being on her own.
She has given up a lot to pursue her dreams as a tennis player and is fortunate to playing for the
University of Portland as a sophomore. You can see Jelena's player profile here.
I love this picture of Jelena because the entire time we were talking, she had her hands in her pockets and looked so relaxed and cool. When it came time to take her photograph, I asked her to keep her hands in her pockets and her friends laughed because she almost always walks around looking like this. So classic!
Thanks Jelena for giving in and allowing me to hear your story and share it with our community. I wish you all the best this next year and the years ahead as you pursue your professional tennis career. I'll be following along hoping to see you in a Grand Slam final!