By Paula Barañano | Lariat Contributor
When someone is determined to do something, they do whatever it takes to get it. This was the case of Melany Krywoj, who with her rackets and passion traveled the world to pursue her dream — playing tennis.
Krywoj’s story started in Lobos, Buenos Aires, Argentina, when she was seven. She held her racket and started hitting the ball in a tennis club near her house.
“I spent entire days in the club playing tennis and running all over the place,” Krywoj said. “Every day after school, I went straight to the club to practice. It was my second house.”
When Krywoj was 14, her natural abilities and her tournament results encouraged her to look for better opportunities. Krywoj decided to move to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, with her cousin. There she was able to train with better players, and she could take part in more tournaments.
“Melany left when she was very young,” Laura Krywoj, Melany’s mom said. “As a mother, it was scary, but the only thing she wanted was to play tennis, so our family decided to support her and let her pursue her dream”
Moving to Buenos Aires as a teenager was not an easy decision for Krywoj. While living with her cousin, she had to take four buses every day to get to the club.
“It was a huge sacrifice, but it was worth it,” Krywoj said. “I had to be an adult at a young age. It helped me to grow up.”
Krywoj’s talent called the attention of many, and her game wasn’t typical. At 15, she started to play international tournaments and became the No.1 player in South America. She often played a final one afternoon and had to take a plane hours later on the very same day to compete again the following week.
Moreover, being a tennis player in South America takes double the sacrifice. With few tournaments in the area, South American tennis players are forced to travel to Europe and stay there for months without their families and in most of the cases, with few resources.
Krywoj stayed months in Europe playing every week, sleeping in the trains and looking for the cheapest hotels to stay, so she did not spend her family’s money. She also had to take buses and eat in hotel rooms because restaurants were too expensive.
But according to Krywoj, nothing would stop her from climbing to the top. Her hard work and sacrifice payed off when was able to achieve one of her biggest dreams and play in the most important tournaments in the world. At 17, she played Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
“It was a dream came true,” Krywoj said. “All those years of sacrifice and hours of work paid off, but I knew that I needed to keep pushing and growing to become the best version of myself in the court.”
After those tournaments, Krywoj was not a junior player anymore, and she needed to set foot in the pro circuit. It was like starting from scratch, she said. She had to face older and more experienced players, and that meant making a huge change.
“I knew that in order to beat those kinds of players, I had to move to Europe and keep missing moments with my family and my people in Lobos,” Krywoj said. “It was a hard decision to make, but I rented an apartment in Alicante, Spain, and I took the plane before I could regret my choice.”
Krywoj spent months training and traveling around the world. She visited more than 15 countries with her rackets and met friends in every club and place she stayed.
“Tennis is a special sport. It pushes you to the limits ,and you are always alone,” Krywoj said. “That is why I tried to make friends outside the court to feel more supported.”
After a while, ceding her whole life to tennis placed a huge burden on Krywoj’s shoulders. Traveling alone became very difficult.
“I was not enjoying the game, and I felt I was wasting my time playing without feeling motivated,” Krywoj said. “I was not playing the right way and felt it was time for a change.”
She was playing in Turkey when she considered the option of playing college tennis in the United States. That opportunity would help Krywoj to keep developing her game, gain more experience and she could also make a living off it for a few years. Krywoj returned to Alicante to start preparing English exams to be able to get a scholarship.
“When Melany called me and told me she wanted to study in the United States, I liked the idea,” Laura Krywoj said. “I always will support my daughter in whatever she thinks is best for her.”
But her daughter still had another hurdle to overcome.
“I did not handle English very well, so I started studying every day with a tutor,” Krywoj said. “I did not have a lot of time to study either, since the start of the school year was around the corner. I worked hard, and I could get the score to get the scholarship. Those few months were really challenging for me, but I was happy when I got over them.”
Krywoj visited a few schools, and she finally decided to go to Baylor University. Once again, she grabbed her rackets and took a plane. New challenges and a new journey were about to begin. As always, she said she would give 100% every day and with passion and heart she would face every obstacle in her way.
Editor’s note: Paula Barañano is a sophomore communications major from Mar Del Plata, Argentina, and is also a member of the Baylor women’s tennis team.