INTERVIEW: Ann Grossman-Wunderlich, “What you put into it, is what you get out of it.”

There comes a time in everyone’s life when there is nothing left to lose. It’s that moment when your true character surfaces—blows through the haze, quiets the noise and removes the indecisiveness of dizzying choices… because there are only two choices left to make: Get up and go for it, or stay down get sucked into oblivion.

This is just the kind of life event that propelled Ann Grossman-Wunderlich to “go for it” and shaped her tennis career. She was born in a rural town where life was never easy from the start. Not having heat or running water was common and she and her siblings had to work the farm before and after school. Some of the fondest memories for Ann came from playing tennis with her Dad, Bill Grossman, on local courts.

“My Dad practiced with me every day. I wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for him. He sacrificed a lot of his personal time. We would stay on the court after everyone went home. Most parents don’t have that kind of patience.”

With this dedication to Ann, her Dad instilled in her a deep-rooted love for the sport and taught her one of her biggest life lessons:

“What you put into it, is what you get out of it. 
Work hard, things will happen.”

It wasn’t long before young Ann could put that advice to the ultimate test. Her defining moment came in the 1980s during the farming crisis. “At about 11 years old my Dad pulled me into a quiet room, and with tears in his eyes said, ‘We lost the farm’.” This was the first time Ann had seen her Dad cry.
“These are the kinds of things that get you in the gut.”

Ann at age five with father Bill Grossman and first ball machine.

Ann grew up in an instant. Her path was clear and she knew there was only one thing that she felt sure about; only one thing that she could see clearly as a possible future for her… tennis. With this vision in sight, Ann worked tirelessly. Spending all her time on the court drove her to exceed beyond her expected abilities.

Very quickly Ann began to develop into an exceptional player, and was offered a full scholarship at the coveted Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida.

“My parents dropped me off at the academy when I was 12, and I didn’t look back.”

At 15, Ann took her first trip to Europe and began the pro tour with the WTA. This set her up to be able to travel abroad on her own. “I was 5’3”, shy and scared. I didn’t have huge contracts. By age 17 I had travelled the world. This empowered me and gave me so much confidence. I loved it. Taiwan, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, Europe… I was on my own, 35 weeks of the year for 11+ years. It was lonely and tough, but way better than the life I had at home.”

“When I got the Wild Card, I didn’t want to give it away. I fought hard. I would ask myself ‘What do you want to do?’ My other life was tougher than anything I endured playing tennis and I was willing to pay the price to stay in it.”

Fed Cup Team 1993 with Debbie Graham, Lindsay Davenport, Lori McNeal and Ann Grossman.

For a young player on the WTA tour, without money, support, coaching or direction, life on the road could take its toll. The environment was competitive and often exclusive. “It was like running my own business. I had to keep track of everything… wins, losses, tournament schedules and my next meal. I made some great friends but there were competitors who seemed like they wanted you to fail. It was easy to lose your confidence. Even when I was down, I knew this was my love and my passion… I had to stay focused. My successes kept me going.”

Ann Grossman competed on the WTA tour for over a decade from 1987 to 1998. She twice reached the 4th round in the French Open and once at the US Open and was ranked as high as 28 in singles and 31 in doubles. She recorded wins over Martina Navratilova, Mary Jo Fernandez and Zina Garrison, and retired with an even 185–185 career record. She has since served on the USTA Olympic and Federation Cup committees. Currently, Ann Grossman-Wunderlich is an independent Coach and president of the WTCA — Women’s Tennis Coaching Association.

Ann Grossman-Wunderlich coaching Francesca Di Lorenzo, winner National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships 2015.

“I just love the feeling of hitting the ball. Tennis has taken me on an amazing journey… I just can’t quit. As a coach I want to make a difference in people’s lives, especially kids’.”

Ann Grossman-Wunderlich is an independent Coach and president of the WTCA — Women’s Tennis Coaching Association

Women’s Tennis Coaching Association
 Mission: The Primary objective of the WTCA is to support its member coaches. We strive to promote our members with the desire to improve the overall standard of coaching in women’s tennis, internationally.