At SaltStick, we are proud to sponsor top athletes in the fields of triathlon, running, tennis and jiu jitsu. We are inspired by our athletes and admire the hard work and time they dedicate to achieving success.
Because we hope our athletes’ performances will serve as motivation as you pursue your own fitness and life journey, we enjoy sharing their stories. This week’s blog post features Sabrina Santamaria, a professional tennis player with two ITF pro singles titles under her belt.
Sabrina’s tennis journey
Sabrina Santamaria, daughter to parents who first met on a tennis court, was more or less destined to pick up the sport from birth. For as long as she can remember, her father has coached her in the game, guiding her through the junior ranks and ultimately to a full scholarship at the University of Southern California (USC). After graduation, she moved to the professional ranks, still under the tutelage of her dad.
As a product of the Los Angeles public tennis courts, Sabrina’s humble upbringing propelled her to success at USC, where achieved No. 1 NCAA singles and doubles rankings, five-time All-American status, and USC’s first-ever NCAA Doubles Championship title. Today, she has multiple WTA top-200 wins under her belt, two ITF pro singles titles, and nine ITF pro Doubles titles, with her highest rankings being WTA #384 in singles and #216 in doubles. In 2018, she made her first appearance at Wimbledon.
Sabrina’s training weeks are often split between individual coaching time, group training at the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) National Training Center in Carson, Calif., and match play with other top female pros in the Los Angeles area. No matter where she is, she’ll log between four and five hours on the court, along with two additional hours dedicated to fitness through boxing, yoga or cycling. Additionally, each day she is sure to include a set of sprints either in the gym or outdoors in one of the parks.
On mental toughness
“Tennis is a ridiculous emotional roller-coaster that has the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” Sabrina says. “There is only one winner at the end of each week, and unless you are Serena Williams, you are probably losing at some point every week.”
The key to a successful career as a tennis player is an ability to bounce back from the losses, she says. Additionally, players must rely on reserves of mental strength for on-court performances, as the pressure to panic is immense. A good athlete will not only remain calm, but also quickly adapt to the other players’ strategies and weaknesses, which can be exploited for the win.
To Sabrina, tennis is a story of incredible dedication from both herself and her parents.
“My motivation originates from thinking about all the sacrifices my parents made to get me this far, and all the hard work that I’ve put in to get where I am as well,” she says.
Each day is a chance for her to improve upon the day before, and the notion of making her parents proud pushes her to get better and better. In a similar vein, Sabrina’s favorite accomplishments have come from moments that are dedicated to a broader team or vision.
“One of my proudest moments in college tennis was clinching our quarterfinal match against Stanford as a freshman to secure our ticket into Final Four berth in 2012,” she says. “There was nothing more fulfilling than playing for your teammates, coaches and university.”
Another favorite memory is her capture of a silver medal in the 2013 World University Games. Crediting “heart and tenacity” for her success, Sabrina says she is fond of the win because it allowed her to represent her country on the world stage.
When at her home base in California, Sabrina maintains a fairly strict approach to eating, avoiding foods that make her feel bloated and sluggish, such as those with high sugar content. On the road, Sabrina admits it’s much harder to eat the same way, but she tries to limit any indulgences that will affect her performance on the court. “Still,” she says, “sometimes you’ve just got to have that croissant in France!”
How SaltStick helps Sabrina: After hearing friend and former teammate Danielle Lao share the benefits of SaltStick, Sabrina gave the products a try during a hot match in Asia. When she noticed an improvement in her performance — and a lack of cramping — she became a fan.
“SaltStick enables me to compete at my highest potential, no matter the climate or unusual conditions,” she says. “I’m confident in SaltStick to keep me hydrated and replenished on the practice court and through grueling matches.”
During hot conditions, Sabrina is sure to consume two SaltStick Fastchews every hour, in order to replace the electrolytes she is losing through sweat.
“I love the taste and chewable form of the Fastchews, so those are my favorites to keep me going,” she says.
Advice to new athletes
Quick to note that tennis is a lifelong sport, Sabrina’s advice to novice players is to build a foundation of basic skills that can last for decades.
“I think for athletes it can serve as intense cross-training, with tons of side-step shuffling, sprinting and diagonal directional changes, mixed with shoulder strength in hitting the ball,” she says. “But the most important thing is to have fun!”