Stepping out of your Comfort Zone for Personal Growth through Travel, Culture, and Tennis Academies

Mar 6, 2024Atlas Tennis Trips, Europe, Featured, News

It’s only 8:00 AM and I’m on the way to JTCC, one of the top tennis academies in the world.  How does it already feel like it’s been a full day? 

I have this thought regularly, even though I know the answer. I’m incredibly lucky to be so busy in and out of the tennis world.  At times, my days are filled to the brim which can be overwhelming, however, I learned to manage the stress thanks to a lifetime of personal growth through my experiences with tennis, travel, and the many relationships I’ve built along the way.

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Tennis in the Alps

Growing up, I only played tennis because I loved the game. I had no clue where it would take me. Today, retrospectively, it’s amazing to think about all the steps that brought me here, to these full days in my different roles: General Manager of Player Development at Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC), one of the nation’s top tennis academies, Board Member at the USTA as an elite-athlete, founding partner of Atlas Tennis, and most importantly, as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend. 

As a kid, tennis quickly emerged for me as not only something I enjoyed, but also something I realized I was pretty good at! As I know now, potential and success are not as closely connected as I might have thought at the time, and recognizing my passion for tennis was only the start of a lifelong journey towards self mastery that I am still on today.

My family put a major emphasis on the importance of education and travel and, put simply, seeing the world. From an early age, I cannot remember a holiday that wasn’t spent in a different country.  As a rite of passage and the age of 11 my mom dropped me off at a Swiss boarding school.  Fortunately, I got to experience boarding school with my first love, tennis.  At the time, I had no idea the extent of the impact that this experience would have on me. Of course, getting the chance to train and compete in a new environment was super exciting—but not without some nerves too.

It was a British boarding school but so many of the kids, none whom I knew,  were from around the world and didn’t speak ANY english.  This forced me to learn the art of communication without words. The food was unfamiliar albeit yummy. I had never played on red clay before. All these factors weighed on my mind as I sat in my dorm room.  This is where I learned to embrace the uneasy feeling you get when you are right outside of your comfort zone. You have to dive in—accept and endure the challenge.  

Heading to Europe was only one piece of this journey, but represents many of the best aspects of what I’ve gained through tennis, travel, culture, and the relationships I’ve built along the way. Being in a new country during my teenage years pushed me to grow in many ways—some obvious, some not. The exposure to a new environment—players, coaches, surfaces—was pivotal in my tennis development and helped me take the steps towards my goals of playing at a high level in college tennis and making it as a professional. And while I’m so grateful for that growth on the court, it’s the personal growth that has been the most impactful in my life.

As a first generation immigrant, the importance of understanding and being exposed to different cultures is embedded into how I interacted with the world. Regardless of my background growing up, going to Switzerland immediately expanded my perspective and exposed me to new people from different backgrounds. Naturally, being in that environment was the perfect setting to learn how to relate to others, connect with new people, and use tennis for one of its most important assets—as a way to bring people together. 

Megan on the red clay

Megan on the European Red Clay

It didn’t matter where we were from, that we spoke different languages, ate different foods, listened to different music—if nothing else, we had the pursuit of excellence in common, which more often than not broke the ice and opened the door to making deeper connections, including building many friendships and relationships I still maintain and value today.

Tennis has the ability to simultaneously bridge different cultures together while also creating a unique, international, diverse culture of its own. To me, that’s one of the most special things about the sport. I can go anywhere in the world and know that I already have a means of connecting with people through tennis. 

Bringing it back to my own personal experience with growth through tennis, travel, and culture, there is another massive lesson that stands out in my mind when I think about the life skills I’ve learned, and that is my ability to overcome challenges. By nature, crossing an ocean to live in a different country as an eleven year old put me in an uncomfortable situation, and honestly since then I’ve continuously found myself outside of my comfort zone. 

Whether it be as a 16 year old in a foreign country, exhausted from training and unable to speak the language of those around me, or as a 26 year old jet-lagged but having to step on court for a WTA match anyway, or now as a mom needing to bring my best to work each day despite the typical chaos of having two small children at home—I’ve been able to face these obstacles and not only overcome them, but embrace them, thanks to a lifetime of experience.

At this point, I’m motivated to do more than just continue on with my journey of personal growth and development. I want to share these lessons with others as they embark on their own journeys, whether it be my own kids, players at tennis academies like JTCC, or the teenagers that travel with Atlas Tennis. The opportunity to help guide young people towards self improvement through tennis and travel is why I do what I do everyday—it’s why even on those days where I can’t believe it’s only 8:00 AM, I can’t help but stay excited to keep going and try to help make a difference in the lives of others. 

And it’s also why I’m proud to be a part of Atlas Tennis.

-Megan Moulton-Levy