Anna Kournikova rallies RHS students

by Senior Airman Amanda Dick
Ramstein Public Affairs

Former professional tennis player Anna Kournikova spoke to students in the Ramstein High School varsity and tennis clubs May 19 in the RHS gymnasium.

Ms. Kournikova visited with students as part of a six-day educational United Service Organizations tour to help her learn what military members and their families experience overseas and then relate that experience to those in the United States.

While speaking to the students, Ms. Kournikova expressed what the tour meant for her.

“It gives me a great opportunity to come and see you guys and your parents, to get educated and learn about how you guys live outside your home country,” she said. “When I go back to the states, I tell everyone what you guys do here and just try to make them aware of what all of your families do for our country, for us to feel safe and for us to have the life we have.”

Students interacted with Ms. Kournikova through a question and answer session with topics ranging from her tennis career, to modeling, to entering the professional tennis circuit.

When asked what words of wisdom she had for the students, she said, “Everything is up to you. Whatever you decide is up to you; you can make it happen. As long as you believe in yourself and work hard, you can have fun and play hard. It’s a balance.”

Many of the students said they were grateful and learned something from Ms. Kournikova.

“I am an aspiring basketball player, so I learned the dedication, hard work and time it takes to get to where you want to go,” said RHS senior Brent Schuck. “I know she’s also a motivational speaker, so I appreciate her coming out and taking time to visit our school and speak.”

Ms. Kournikova started touring with the USO in November 2008. She has visited Guam and Turkey and will finish her tour with a visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to meet wounded warriors.

The 27-year-old was born in Moscow, Russia, and moved to the United States with her mother at the age of 9 to pursue a career in tennis. She started playing professionally at the age of 14, travelling for 10 to 11 months out of the year playing in tournaments.

Though she no longer plays professionally, Ms. Kournikova participates in exhibition and charity matches.