Mental illness a growing concern on tennis tours

For Petra Kvitova, everything changed thanks to a single, simple text message. It was February, and the Czech tennis standout had just landed in Doha, Qatar, for the next stop on the hectic tennis circuit. Seven months after winning her second Wimbledon title and four months after clinching another Fed Cup, she ought to have been on a high. But something was wrong. She felt empty, listless and, most worrying of all, unable to explain why.

Kvitova was preparing for her second-round match against Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic when she checked her text messages. Among them was one from her longtime coach, David Kotyza.

Petra Kvitova said she was burned out, mentally, after playing so much tennis. AP PhotoTim Ireland

“I think it’s a good idea to take a break,” he said. “Otherwise, I don’t know how long you are going to keep on feeling this way.”

Taken aback by the message, the 25-year-old knew something had to be done. She thought it over “for four days and for four nights” until she realized Kotyza was right. The pair had discussed her feelings in January during a tournament in Sydney in a conversation that had Kvitova on the verge of tears. Mentally and physically, she was exhausted.

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Mardy Fish discusses struggle with anxiety disorder

Douglas Robson, USA TODAY Sports 6:29 p.m. EDT August 18, 2014
(Photo: Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo: Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports)

The darkest days are fading. There is golf, fatherhood and an increased sense of satisfaction and containment.

But Mardy Fish’s tennis future is tenuous, at best.

This week marks the anniversary of the 32-year-old American’s last professional match.

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Charlie Beljan’s wild Disney ride has happy ending

2:10 p.m. EST, November 12, 2012|

Charlie Beljan woke up Sunday with a pounding headache and stomach discomfort.

Here we go again.

“Here I am with the lead on the PGA Tour,” Beljan told himself, “and I can’t even wake up and lay in bed and feel well.”

One day earlier, you’ll recall, Beljan did his snoozing in a hospital bed after a panic attack left him fighting to take a normal breath. He ought to be able to rest easy now, though – he’s a PGA Tour winner.

In Disney parlance, call it Charlie Beljan’s Wild Ride.

“This is the greatest feeling ever,” the Arizona pro said after winning the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Sunday’s 3-under-par 69 gave him a two-shot triumph over Robert Garrigus and Matt Every.

Hey, even Disney might not even have bought this script. Beljan’s pulmonary distress, which found him frequently sitting on his bag or even lying on the ground, came between shots of a 64 that gave him a three-shot lead after two rounds.

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Charlie Beljan returns to Disney

Charlie Beljan returns to Disney, maintains lead
Hours after overnight hospital stay, PGA Tour rookie takes 2-shot advantage into final round

November 10, 2012, 6:03 p.m.
Physically, Charlie Beljan keeps checking out fine.

Charlie Beljan returns to Disney
Charlie Beljan continued to battle for the lead at the Children’s Miracle Classic at Disney World during Saturday’s third round at the Magnolia Course at Walk Disney World. (CHRIS HAYS / ORLANDO SENTINEL / November 10, 2012)

X-rays, CT scans, blood work, ultrasound – you name it, doctors have yet to find a test that shows anything abnormal with his body. It’s a point that Beljan spent Saturday constantly reminding himself.

“It’s that little space between the ears that I’ve got to work on,” he confessed.

If his golf game can stay immune another day, the PGA Tour rookie might just write himself a Disney ending.

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Golfer, Charlie Beljan taken to hospital following 8-under 64


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Charlie Beljan spent Friday night in a hospital, yet maintained his lead Saturday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic by shooting 1-under-par 71 at Disney’s Magnolia Course.

Beljan, who complained of chest pains, shortness of breath and numbness in his arms during a second-round 64 on Friday, owns a 2-shot advantage over Brian GayJosh Teater and Charlie Wi.

Released from nearby Celebration Hospital on Saturday morning after a sleepless night, Beljan was unsure how he’d fare before the round began. Despite a doctor’s recommendation not to play, Beljan was back at the Walt Disney World Resort on Saturday morning.

“It was nice to walk around and be able to smile,” Beljan said after the round. “I like having fun and talking to people. And yesterday was hanging on for my life and keeping to myself. So today, I felt a lot more in my environment. (I) enjoyed being out there.

“It was a big relief. Really, it was almost nice, not that that happened yesterday, but teeing it up today, I didn’t really think of the three-shot lead or in the leader group on Saturday on the PGA Tour. I was just trying to go out there and put one foot in front of the other and see what happened.”

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