By Jordy Clifton
A supportive family can always help with life’s struggles and successes. For senior tennis player Kim Stubbe, her family has been there for her throughout her tennis career.
Stubbe grew up in Mol, Belgium with one younger brother, Arno Stubbe, two loving parents, Annemie Willebozts and Michel Stubbe, and grandfather, Rene Willebozts.
Kim has many memories of growing up and having her family’s full attention on her success. Her grandfather helped her achieve some of her tennis goals in his own personal ways.
“He didn’t just focus on tennis, he focused on things to make me do better in life,” said Stubbe. “I struggled with my serve, so my grandfather would help me focus on my toss.”
Kim remembers one instance in particular where her grandfather helped her.
“One day we went and practiced in the garage,” said Kim. “And he drew a dot on the ceiling and I would have to practice my toss by hitting that dot so many times in a row. He didn’t know a lot about tennis, but he was always invested and he always wanted to make me better.”
Arno is only 11 months younger than Kim, so he was an even bigger influence in Kim’s childhood. Growing up, they developed a strong bond by playing sports together.
“The small age gap allowed us to play soccer on the same team when we were younger and in our spare time we always played tennis together on our street,” said Arno. “We practically did everything together. She took her role as being an older sister and a great leader for me.”
Kim’s tennis career was the main focus for her family. Looking back, Kim noticed that most of the family’s time and money went towards her tennis potential. But through it all, Arno was always there for her.
“Kim is very dedicated, has an unbelievable perseverance, and is the greatest fighter I know,” said Arno. “She has her goals and does everything to reach them, but sometimes she does need a little bit of mental support and I make sure I’m always there for her. No matter what the situation I was always on her side, even when she was wrong. She could and always can count on me, just as I can count on her.”
Since Belgium is thousands of miles away, Kim tries her best to stay in contact with her support system back home.
“Recently I bought a smart phone,” said Stubbe. “The main reason why I bought it was to keep in contact with everyone back home. I am emailing my mom every day and I try to Skype her every two days.”
With Skype, smart phones and applications, Kim has a way to connect with certain family members back home. Her grandfather is a little more old school when it comes to communication.
“My grandfather isn’t into technology at all,” said Kim. “He actually writes me two letters each week. It is so special. Every time I get home from practice, I check in the mailbox for his letters. Sometimes I start to panic if his letters come later, but every time I get a letter, it means the world to me.”
Although they cannot visit, Kim’s family tries its best to follow along in her college career.
“My mom always follows online while the live stats are going,” said Kim. “She will stay awake to watch the stats, she is always the number one fan. All of my family has been really supportive with my tennis career.”
Even though Kim’s family is far away, she has developed many relationships at school. She realizes the importance of having people around when she is so far from home.
“I am really happy right here in Arizona,” said Kim. “I have a family here. I am a social butterfly, so I need people in my life. I have my friends outside tennis. I have my team and they are like my sisters and then I have my coaches who are like parents to me.”
The Wildcat family at Arizona keeps Kim’s mind off of missing her family at home. A moment when she gets free time is when she starts missing her family even more.
“I have my Wildcat family, but sometimes I get so busy and it is hard to always think about being back home,” said Kim. “When there are breaks though that is when I start to think, ‘that would have been nice to spend that with the family.’”
Kim’s family’s support has helped her become a stronger person and do anything she puts her mind to. Without their support she doesn’t know where she would stand, but she always knows they will be by her side.
“No matter where I go they know that I will be happy,” said Kim. “And I will do anything to reach after my goals. So no matter what, we will always be a happy family.”