For Leylah Fernandez, her father Jorge Fernandez also doubles up as her coach. He plotted his daughter’s rise and kept her grounded right from the first time she picked up a racquet as a kid.
Jorge has been with her through thick and thin, and the Canadian teenager has credited her father for her upbringing and success on the court.
Speaking to Canadian sports network Sportsnet, the 19-year-old credited her family, especially her dad, for keeping her grounded.
“The only anything I can say is that first and foremost he's my dad. He will tell me the truth when I'm doing things wrong. And there were some moments where I was not grounded, I will not lie because that happens to everybody. But he was there. My mom was there to pop my bubble and just to tie a huge brick and bring me down as quickly as possible down to earth,” Fernandez said.
“I think because of that, I kind of understood that my dad is my friend but first he's my parent. He's going to teach me about life, about how to be independent, how to be strong and then also how to be honest with yourself,” she added.
Fernandez also provided insight into how her father made sure she focused on her tennis rather than worrying about her rankings in her formative days.
“You know, growing up my dad, it's actually hilarious, my dad would forbid me looking at the rankings, looking at the points or looking at the results. So growing up, I would only show up at the tennis match and play tennis and without that worry in my mind,” she stated.
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“We're not gonna defend points, we're gonna go get them; instead of seeing it as defence, let's go on the offense” - Leylah Fernandez’s father ahead of 2022 US Open
Jorge Fernandez continues to be the anchor that steadies Leylah Fernandez. Last year, the Canadian World No. 13 rose to fame when she reached the final of the US Open.
This year, she will have to defend the points earned at the New York Grand Slam to ensure that she does not tumble in the WTA rankings. However, her father wants her not to worry about defending the points but instead to go on the offense.
“Just lately, one thing that has helped me a lot is my dad said that we're not gonna defend points, we're gonna go get them. So instead of seeing it as we're on the defence, let's go on the offense and focus on the tournament that's right now,” she explained.
Having made a successful comeback at the Canadian Open, beating Storm Sanders 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3 in the first round, Fernandez will be eager to get more matches under her belt before the US Open gets underway on August 29.