Nobody knows dedication like a tennis player. All the balls hit, miles traveled, and hours put into just having a shot at a pro career is beyond comprehension for the average person.

Even with a level of commitment and the best laid plans, life still throws curveballs. The three WTA players on this week's episode of the Podcast with Kamau Murray know all about sacrifice, setbacks, and doing everything possible to remain in the game they love.


Ana Konjuh was a prodigy, or as Murray puts it, the tennis version of LeBron James. The No. 1 junior in the world and soon in the Top 20 of the WTA at the age of 19, Konjuh was on the fast track for greatness. But years of arm pain caught up with the Croatian, and the subsequent surgeries on her elbow robbed her of three full seasons. She could've walked away with her head held high, but that wasn't going to happen.

"I know what it's like to go back to the lower events," Konjuh lamented. "And I don't ever want to do that again. That puts more pressure on me for sure."

After falling out of the Top 1000 and essentially starting from scratch, she's back in the Top 70 and yet to turn 25. There's plenty of time for Konjuh to reach those ambitions.

Louisa Chirico was a rising star to watch. After an improbable run to the Madrid Open semifinals as a teenager, it seemed the tennis world was her oyster. But a shoulder injury emerged, and a promising career was derailed As she explained to Murray during their chat, her love for the game continued to burn bright through it all. She's back on the court, having played her way into the main draw at the Charleston Open, and most recently, winning an ITF event in Charlottesville, Va.

"I'm just grateful to be here honestly," the New Jersey native revealed about her outlook going forward.

Her shoulder feels great, her positive attitude remains infectious, and successful results are starting to return for Chirico.


And if anybody knows about being dealt a rough hand, it's Allie Kiick. Part of the talent-filled USA women's class born in 1995 that included Madison Keys and Jennifer Brady, Kiick was viewed by many in that same regard, destined for stardom. But in 2015 she was sidelined with stage II skin cancer, and didn't play for nearly two full seasons. In 2020, she lost her father, NFL standout and two-time Super Bowl champion running back Jim Kiick, and has had to deal with heartbreak no person deserves.

Through it all, the one constant ray of sunshine has been tennis. Even when she was away from the game living as a civilian, there was something missing.

"There were definitely moments where I was enjoying normal life," Kiick told Murray. "But ultimately it was like a missing piece in my life when I didn't have tennis."

What unites Konjuh, Chirico and Kiick is something bigger than a sport. It's a feeling of purpose, an enjoyment in one's craft that gives them pleasure and satisfaction in knowing that hard work can—and will—pay off. These three WTA players are still fighting, still grinding, and as this podcast episode reveals, still relishing every moment on the court.