Alafia Ayeni’s Goal: ‘Overturn Cultural Stigmas’ | ATP Tour | Tennis

Peace be upon you might not be a family identify on the ATP Tour, however that’s not stopping him from making an influence by giving again to the game.

The 23-year-old, who’s competing at this week’s ATP Challenger Tour occasion in Astana, Kazakhstan, began his personal model Workforce 3xdesigned to encourage and empower minorities in sports activities to beat structural limitations and social stigmas. The previous College of Kentucky star Ayeni launched Workforce 3x in 2022.

“Rising up, I believe one of many greatest limitations to entry for this sport is the monetary side of it, shopping for tools, shopping for sneakers, strings, these are all very excessive prices,” Ayeni instructed just lately on the NCAA championships in Lake Nona, Florida. “And for somebody, even a center class household, it is very tough to make it due to these issues.”

Initially from San Diego, California, Ayeni performed 4 seasons at Cornell College earlier than transferring to the College of Kentucky, the place he went 18-9 in dual-season singles and earned ITA All-American honours this 12 months. Due to the ATP/ITA Accelerator Programme, Ayeni’s onerous work is rewarded with as much as eight qualifying spots at choose ATP Challenger Tour occasions within the subsequent 12 months.

World No. 427 Ayeni is impressed to make use of his platform to offer alternatives to minority kids. His father, Anthony, hails from Nigeria however moved to the US at age 17 and now works as a lawyer. Alafia’s mom, Pamela, is a software program engineer, which he mentioned helped spark his curiosity in sport design and coding.

Ayeni is a self starter. Whereas he was at Cornell College in New York, he taught himself to play piano. When he started Workforce 3xhe launched a clothes line with earnings getting used to help juniors in his stomping grounds of southern California. The objective is to ignite aspiring athletes’ careers by serving to them journey to nationwide junior tournaments.

“I believe that the game has been a bit bit stigmatised throughout the minority neighborhood, particularly the African-American neighborhood,” Ayeni mentioned. “Rising up, enjoying tennis, even in highschool, you inform individuals you play tennis and so they’re form of actually stunned. They do not view it as a viable choice to get to varsity or to make a residing. Whereas they view basketball, soccer, or monitor as very viable choices. I believe that is a cultural stigma. That is one thing that my firm is working to overturn.”

The primary merchandise launch consisted of 68 sweatshirts. Why an arbitrary quantity like 68? The late Arthur Ashe received his first main in 1968, when he turned the one African-American man to triumph on the US Open.

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Only one 12 months into Workforce 3xAyeni rapidly discovered help on and off the court docket whereas spending his graduate season in Lexington, Kentucky.

“The College of Kentucky has helped me out loads,” Ayeni mentioned. “Having a complete college at your again will actually allow you to achieve attain, you’ll be able to join with the best individuals, and it actually helps your model develop.”

Below the tutelage of head coach Cedric Kauffmann at Kentucky, Ayeni helped the Wildcats declare their first SEC title since 1992. Ayeni is one of 21 players to benefit from the all-new ATP/ITA Accelerator Programme, which goals to extend the event pathway for prime gamers within the American Collegiate system.

“I believe he had a giant progress 12 months,” Kaufmann mentioned. “He is much more secure mentally, bodily additionally, feels actually good. He is only a very powerful participant, very aggressive participant. He involves the online; not loads of gamers come to the online anymore that a lot. He has the ability and athletic skill to play some excellent factors on the large moments.”

Although the American is just not utilizing an Accelerator spot at this week’s President’s Cup in Astana, followers will proceed to see Ayeni on the ATP Challenger Tour.

“This accelerator program goes to assist loads with loads of the internationals when it comes to competing and taller standing and elevating the extent of faculty tennis for years to return,” Ayeni mentioned.

The seventh seed Ayeni will meet qualifier Evgeny Philippov within the Astana Challenger opening spherical Tuesday. Followers can stream all ATP Challenger Tour matches dwell and on demand without spending a dime at Challenger TV.

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Printed : 2023-07-24 18:35:00

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