In their own words: Breaunna Addison on Black History Month
As we celebrate Black History Month throughout February, we look towards the next generation of leaders in tennis, who are working to spread this sport far and wide, reaching deep into communities to impact youth on many levels. This month, you'll meet leaders who are telling their first-person stories on ustsa.com this year, who recognize the influences family, friends, teachers and coaches have had on the direction their lives and careers have taken—and how that direction is positively impacting the newest generations. Today, meet Breaunna Addison.
My tennis journey began at age 7. I was inspired by watching Venus and Serena Williams competing at the US Open. At the time, I was running track as my primary sport, but seeing their passion and dominance gave me the confidence and belief that I could do it, too. I convinced my parents to buy me a tennis racquet and can of balls, and after school and track practice, I would go out and hit balls against the garage.
After a few dents in the garage, my parents saw I was passionate about tennis and enrolled me in tennis clinics at Sprinker Recreation Center in Tacoma, Wash., twice per week. Then, my passion for the game really exploded: I wanted to play all the time. In addition to clinics twice a week, Pat Kubota, the director at Sprinker and my first coach, allowed me to hit into five or six sessions a week. After a year, I was completely focused on tennis and started competing in local and sectional tournaments.
About two years later, in the summer of 2005, my parents enrolled me in the John Newcombe Summer Camp program in New Braunfels, Texas, where I was offered an opportunity to join the full-time program on scholarship—so my parents made an incredible sacrifice; we moved to New Braunfels for my tennis.
Throughout my two-and-a-half years of training at John Newcombe, I had incredible coaches and peers pushing me day in and out, and my game truly blossomed. I became No. 1 in girls’ 12-and-under and reached my first super national championship. I gained the attention of the USTA High Performance Program and was offered an opportunity to train full-time in Boca Raton, Fla.
Again, my parents made an incredible sacrifice in support of my tennis and moved to Boca Raton so I could train full time at the USTA center. Under the mentorship of former pro Lori McNeil, I trained at USTA full time for two-and-a-half years. In 2009, just shy of my 15th birthday, I won the 16s junior Orange Bowl.
But then, after a coaching change, I began suffering from burnout, and I started to lose my passion for the game. Tennis felt like a job, I felt pressure to “win,” and I started struggling with injuries. I lost my position in the USTA High Performance program, which ultimately led to me stepping away from the game for 15 months. My time away allowed me to rehabilitate some of my injuries, and importantly, it reignited my passion for tennis—and allowed me to reflect on and appreciate the opportunities and support I’d received throughout my journey.
I then started training at LAT Tennis Academy in Boynton Beach, Fla. Almost immediately, I was able to pick up where I left off, and experienced success in ITF kunior and Pro Circuit events. But I put my tennis career on hold a second time when, sadly, my father began suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia and our family rallied to support him.
About a year later, I was able to resume my tennis career after accepting a scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin. My passion for tennis, and for the desire to use my experiences to help others, continued after college. I joined the LAT Tennis Academy coaching staff in 2017, working with high-performance juniors before transitioning into college coaching.
I spent three seasons as the Miami (Ohio) assistant tennis coach from 2018 to 2020. While in Oxford, I earned a master of science in kinesiology and health with a concentration in sports psychology, along with my USPTA Elite Professional certification.
Currently, I am the associate head tennis coach at Howard University. In addition to my work with Howard, I am an active member of the USPTA, USTA Youth Coaches Cohort, the ITA/USTA mentorship program, and serving as the American Tennis Association (ATA) board secretary.
Although I received incredible support throughout my tennis journey, my biggest influence was Lori McNeil. Not only did she share invaluable information to help my game evolve, but Lori changed my relationship with the sport. She helped me recognize the value in my platform, and my responsibility to represent myself and my community with pride and professionalism. Lori also taught me to have confidence in myself and to be accountable for things that are within my control, and to persevere through obstacles that may be outside of my control.
One thing I hope people take away from my story is that not everyone will travel down the same path; people will have different journeys. I think you must view the obstacles you face in a positive light. I don’t compare my career path to others—“Comparison is the thief of joy,” as the saying goes—because that’s unproductive. Sure, I would have loved to have climbed the ranks as a pro tennis player, but I’m so thankful for my journey, because it allowed me to strengthen my appreciation and love for the game.
And I’m thankful to be able to coach—I hope to continue to share my experiences and knowledge with others to help them strive to achieve their best self.