This week we interview a vibrant young lady who makes her mark on the tennis court. Born to a former Jamaican Olympian and a mother from Denmark, Simone Vranov-Brown is an aspiring tennis star whose determination and discipline are bound to make her a household name. Simone is ranked 219 in the US and 43 in Florida and is striving to earn her world ranking by the end of this year. Her overall goal is to be the next Grand Slam champion!
1) When did you realize that playing tennis was your destiny?
I think there was a time when I was attending a school in New Jersey and my dad realized there were no physical education classes so he enrolled me in tennis. He’s a former track and field star for Jamaica so he’s very much into athletics and he wanted to ensure that I was getting the proper physical exercise too. I fell in love with it! There was another time when I was playing a match and I was down by five and I heard my dad on the sidelines getting ready to pack up my equipment and I found the motivation to play harder and I ended up winning. I was about fifteen but I knew I could win so I played harder and won. That’s when I realized I just wanted to do this. Many of my friends have chosen to attend different colleges but I chose to follow this dream and go pro.
2) At what age did you receive your first racket?
I was about three years old or so when my dad got me a pink racket with a ball attached to it and I’d go into my room and play with it.
3) Who are the most influential people in your life?
My dad, of course. Having watched his career and work ethic, I’ve learned from him. I also look up to David Oliver, and I love training with him because I take my work very seriously but he makes sure I laugh and he tells me all the time to relax and enjoy myself a little bit. I also love my grandmother, Doreen Brown. There is nothing she wouldn’t do for me. My parents and grandparents are very influential. I grew up watching the Williams sisters also.
4) What are your fears?
I guess I don’t fear much because I don’t have many options. Losing is not an option for me. I chose to go pro instead of accepting scholarships from Stanford and UofFL and the Naval Academy so failure is not an option for me. I fear bugs jumping in my ear while I’m training but I’m an outdoors person so that happens all the time, even yesterday. But I am afraid of getting stung by a bee.
5) What’s your mantra?
I just work hard and tell myself that I can win.
6) What are you doing when you’re not playing tennis?
I play video games with my sister. I like combat games but I also play tennis games and I play car racing games. That’s kind of how I taught myself how to drive too!
7) How do you relax? How to you calm yourself down before a match?
I guess you could say meditation. I spend at least fifteen minutes alone before a match because sometimes I can get nervous and distracted if I think too much about the match. Sometimes if I’m to play a big match against a really good person, people will say things like “This is big, etc.” but I try to stay calm and think “okay, this is just another game” so I stay to myself. Before every game, I run six laps around the court, do some jump rope exercises and warm up exercises and then find a silente place where I can meditate.
8) What are your power foods?
I love grilled chicken! I make a great tomato salad with olive oil and onions, I love nutriment because sometimes when I’m training hard, I don’t feel as hungry so I have to eat something to replenish the nutrients in my body. I also love to eat my dad’s sweet potato fries. I eat what works for me. I’m a simple gal. I don’t do sugars and a lot of bread. I like what I like.
9) What’s your favorite place to go in Jamaica?
Scotchies and Devon House for Ice Cream. Once I land the first place I want to go is Scotchie’s
10) What’s your favorite patois word?
Rubbish and Wah Gwaan. When someone tells you that you’re talking “rubbish” you know right away that you aren’t making any sense. And I just love the sound of “wah gwaan?”
11) Your parents are Danish and Jamaican. What’s your favorite combination of Danish and Jamaican foods?
My grandmother on my mom’s side is Danish and she makes a nice pork burger and my dad makes really good curried goat and brown stew chicken and I love to eat them together.
12) You’re running a Grand Slam campaign on your page, tell us about it and tell us more about your goals as a tennis player.
Presently, I am trying to raise enough money to pursue my dream. There are negotiations in the making but I can’t talk about them yet. Tennis is an expensive sport to play and we just don’t have all of the financial resources to keep me playing in the big leagues. At times I see girls who I competed with playing in Wimbledon and I wonder what’s the difference between me and them and the difference simply is that I don’t have the financial support that they have. So I started a few campaigns. One was a car wash and then I started selling photos of myself with my autograph to people who contributed to my training and travel. It has been going very well and I would like to thank all of the people who have been supporting me over the years. Sometimes I volunteer to give private lessons to people who have offered large sponsorships and I also invite them to key games. I also work with a charity of their choice if necessary, as I am all about community service, and I do my best to serve others.
13) Where do you see yourself in the next year and a half?
I’ll definitely be in Wimbledon, that is my goal and I hope to keep playing professionally in the big leagues!
To follow Simone’s career, visit her website at http://www.sim1vb.com/ or follow her on twitter @SimoneV_B