Leylah Fernandez says former teacher told her to quit tennis

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Leylah Annie Fernandez has captured hearts around the world with her US Open run. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Leylah Annie Fernandez has captured hearts around the world with her US Open run. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

First Penny Oleksiak, now Leylah Annie Fernandez. Why are some teachers trying to crush young, aspiring athletes' dreams in this country?

In August, Oleksiak — Canada's most decorated Olympian — posted a viral tweet calling out a teacher for “telling (her) to stop swimming and focus on school.”

After defeating world No. 2 women’s tennis player Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open semifinal Thursday night, Fernandez told a similar story.

“A teacher told me to stop playing tennis, you'll never make it, just focus on school,” she said.

"I'm glad she told me that because every day I have that phrase in my head saying: I'm going to keep going, push through, prove to her everything I've dreamed of I'm going to achieve."

Maybe these teachers were actually one step ahead and knew that negativity would give the athletes the necessary motivation to reach their goals - true masters of reverse psychology.

Can’t argue with the results.

Fernandez, who turned 19 just four days ago and is barely older than most high school kids, has captivated the tennis world and Canadian sports fans alike with her charisma-filled miracle run at the US Open.

The Montreal native entered the tournament ranked 73rd in the world, and on Saturday she’ll face fellow teenager Emma Raducanu from Great Britain in the final. To get there, Fernandez bulldozed over world No. 3 Naomi Osaka, three-time grand slam winner Angelique Kerber, world No. 5 Elina Svitolina and Sabalenka. 

Giant. Slayer.

NBA legend Magic Johnson, who’s never posted a non-factual tweet in his life, is one of her many new high-profile admirers.

Being the underdog is hardly new for Fernandez. When she was seven years old, Tennis Quebec dropped her from their development program. Her father then became her coach and still coaches to this day, despite knowing very little about the sport.

Sounds like he, in a different way than her naysaying teacher, has the motivation tactics on lock.

"My dad would tell me all the time, there's no limit to my potential to what I can do," said Fernandez. "Every day we just have to keep working hard, we have to keep going for it.

"Nothing is impossible. There's no limit to what I can do."

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