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Meet Camelia Negoita

My father once said ď There will be obstacles in your life and there will be times when you will feel that the whole world is against you, but despite this, never give up your faith, your hope and your determination in whatever you do, either tennis or your own lifeĒ.

I was five years old at that time and I had just started my tennis career. Years later his words inspired me in difficult times and gave me the strength to work hard, take responsibility of my life, and achieve my dreams.

On June 5, 1986, approximately 50 kids showed up for a tennis team try-out at a small suburban club, just outside Bucharest, Romania.

Full of dreams and soaring aspirations, the parents saw this as a chance for their offspring to stand out from the crowd and become the next champion in Wimbledon and Rolland Garos. It was my fatherís dream for his daughter to hit aces like Stefi Graff and attack the net like Martina Navratilova, so I was among the other young competitors.

It was then when my struggle for success began and when I made a promise that I will make my father proud. What I did not know at the time, and unfortunately many people donít either, is that it takes hard work, strong will and sacrifices to achieve the performance level. It seems so easy when you see the big players developing decisive tactics, covering each inch of the court and shoot balls better than any James Bond hero. Beyond this image though, only athletes, couches and family know the effort invested. I dedicated weekends, holidays, training late in the night for the sake of a dream and by the age of nine I had already won a tennis tournament.

When in 1992 a car accident put me on the side for six months it seemed that my fatherís dream would never be fulfilled. The recovery process was a painful one, but never once had I thought about giving up tennis. Maybe because it got into my blood so deep or maybe because my fatherís words started making sense for me: I decide to continue the battle.

During the years I had the chance to travel a lot for my tennis tournaments and broaden my cultural horizons. Playing tennis did not stop me from performing my best academically and the challenge in balancing successfully the two areas motivated me to come to America.

In a time when the economy of my country was struggling for decent standards of living and my parents were not able to support my studies in a foreign country, I had the courage to dream of coming to America. I believe that if you really, really want something and invest effort and achieving it, in the end you will be rewarded. I was rewarded with a tennis scholarship.

Leaving Romania and my dear family was the hardest decision I ever had to make. For the first time I was taking the full responsibility of my life and my future. Here in America neither the love nor the care of my parents could prevent me from failing in my attempt. The words of my father are still with me, and once again they helped me when a year ago a surgery put an end to my tennis career.

Now my priorities have changed. I am more involved in school and community activities and I am interested in pursuing a career in Journalism or International Affairs. I am majoring in International Economic and Communication Relations at University of Florida, Gainesville. I have a senior level and plan to graduate in December of 2003.

My fatherís lesson taught me to be exigent with myself and try my best in whatever I do. I have come a long way both physically and emotionally but I have learned that with strong passion and work I can make my dreams come true.

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Last updated: October 24, 2002
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