German Sanchez came to the IMG Academy Bollettieri tennis program as a 12-year-old with lofty dreams of one day playing professionally and representing his home country of Mexico in the Davis Cup.
The problem was, he barely knew the game.
"We arrived here the first time, and Nick (Bollettieri) and Jairo (Aldana) said, 'No, no, that's not the way to grab the racket,'" remembers Laura Sanchez, German's mother. "I thought, 'Oh my goodness, he doesn't even have the grip right!'"
Seven years and countless hours on the court later, the 19-year-old Sanchez is not only playing ITF events, but was named on Wednesday to the Mexico Davis Cup Team. His tryout included a 10-day stay with the Mexico Tennis Federation, in which German played singles and doubles matches for 8-plus hours per day.
"He was so excited that he couldn't even text," Laura Sanchez said. "He said, 'Mama, you have to call me.' I've always encouraged him to realize his dreams and goals, and representing his country was one of his main goals."
(Check out a story in a Mexico newspaper that features German)
Laura Sanchez touts the services provided to German not only by tennis coaches like Jose Lambert and Paul Forsyth, but the teachers and programs at The IMG Academy School at IMG Academy, which helped him learn the English language.
"He was built very strong physically and mentally," Laura said. "He couldn't afford to have one or the other. The Academy helped him so much."