As a child, Sierra Nellessen would come out of her gymnastics class with one question for her mom: how do I win?
It was at that moment that Nellessen's mother knew that her daughter needed the competition that tennis could provide.
Now, as a tennis professional at The Club at Harper's Point and Tennis Ambassador, Nellessen is completely in her element. Meet her below!
Q: How did your tennis journey start, and what do you do now?
A: My tennis journey started when I was five years old. Across the street from my gymnastics class was Schroeder Tennis Center. We [Sierra and her mother] walked across the street and watched one of the younger classes hit. I immediately fell in love and have been playing ever since.
I played non-stop from that day on until I reached my goal of playing Division 1 college tennis at Northern Kentucky University. I was a full-time teaching pro after college and would run GCITA [Greater Cincinnati Indoor Tennis Association] teams all the way down to pee wee clinics. I still compete in a 5.0 Conference 1 League and am joining a Pro League soon.
I enjoy my current job as a Tennis Professional at The Club at Harper's Point. I teach private lessons for all ages but have recently taken over the eight and under junior tennis program. I am best known as "Harper's Tennis Girl". This is an ambassador/influencer role that I have adopted for The Club to help encourage people of all ages to play the sport of a lifetime. Harper's Tennis Girl makes daily posts on Facebook and Instagram about fitness, tennis, fashion and health. I have a monthly blog, as well, on our website in which I write about my experience in tennis and fitness.
Q: Why do you think tennis is a sport worth sharing?
A: Tennis is worth sharing because it is truly the sport of a lifetime. You can pick it up at any age and play it your entire life. It is a great way to make friends and learn valuable life lessons.
Q: How do you think tennis is beneficial?
A: Tennis is beneficial because it improves your physical and mental well-being. It is a great way to stay healthy and fit without even feeling like you are working out. Mentally, it challenges you to construct points, stay focused and never give up. Playing tennis also teaches you many valuable life lessons. For me, it has taught me teamwork, determination, focus, tenacity and drive.
Q: Why did you want to become a Tennis Ambassador, and what does the position mean to you personally?
A: I wanted to become a Tennis Ambassador because I realized quickly after playing collegiately that my tennis journey was not over. I wanted to continue on and teach others the game that I fell in love with.
This position is an honor that comes with responsibility. It is my job to grow the game and show others the value that tennis holds for me through setting an example on and off court.
Q: What is your favorite tennis memory?
A: My favorite tennis memory is my very last college match. If my team won this particular match, we would go on to play conference, and if we lost, my collegiate tennis career was over.
We were a playing a tough team, and my opponent was well known. We had won the doubles point, and things were looking good. I was in a battle, and my teammates were fighting hard next to me. I was deep into my third set when my teammates started culminating on my court. They were crying. We had lost already based on numbers, but I still had to finish my match.
It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I realized I was no longer fighting for my team, but for myself. I pushed the sadness to the back of my brain and won my match. I turned to my parents and grandparents after match point and shared a fist bump and meaningful glance. They had been at every match since I was a child, and now the journey had ended with a victory.
Q: How has tennis improved your life?
A: Tennis has made me a better person. It has showed me the importance of work ethic and honor. These two qualities I try to incorporate into everything that I do in my daily life. It has given me the chance to travel around the world and meet people from every walk of life. It has given me my very best friends. It has given me an outlet for my frustrations as well the chance to help others. It truly has given me everything.
Q: Why would you encourage someone to get invovled in tennis?
A: I would encourage someone to get involved in tennis because it is so much fun! It is a great way to get healthy and meet friends. It is a great outlet for your emotions as well.
Playing a sport is one of the best things that you can do in your lifetime. I would not be who I am today without my coaches, teammates and opportunities that I have gained from sports. Tennis is the best sport out there and one of the few that you can pick up at any age and play throughout your lifetime. It is worth every second on court.