- Inner Voice Artists
Good afternoon, YouthMundees! At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process.
A ripper of a return!
She looks like she’s a power hitter!
A brilliant play!
Scrolling through comments on YouTube and tennis forums, these are the words you’ll hear and read that describe international tennis player Reese Brantmeier. At 16 years old, Reese travels around the world earning top titles for Team USA.
What drives your passion and game for tennis?
I fell in love with tennis the first time I picked up a racket. I played a lot of different sports when I was younger - volleyball, basketball, gymnastics - you name it. Maybe it was the result of growing up with two older brothers, but I’ve always loved to compete, and it didn’t really matter in what.
My family and I live in rural Wisconsin, where tennis isn’t really a thing. But something about tennis made an instant connection with me. Now I’ve realized this to be the individuality of the sport.
Individuality allows me to take ownership and responsibility for the game: if I lose, it is all on me. The lack of control of the team sports I played as a kid killed me; I love the pressure of individual sports.When you’re playing a match, it’s just you versus them. And unlike structured team practices, you can practice as often as you want. And I always wanted to be on the court.
Tennis gives me the freedom to express myself and find my own identity. I love how challenging the sport is - there’s never a time when I don’t have something to work on. I can always improve. Tennis is not only an extremely physically challenging sport but also one that pushes me mentally and emotionally.
I think every athlete can understand that sports are a love-hate relationship. There are days when you don’t want to practice. There are going to be tough losses, long trips away from home, early mornings, and late nights. But through it all, the underlying love and respect for the game keeps me going. and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Tell us about a turning point in your tennis career?
2019 was a really monumental year for me: a year of my lowest lows and highest highs. I started off with my first major injury in January, which was devastating. This was the first time I’d taken a significant amount of time away from the game, and while it was rough, the time off made me realize how much I love the game.
My first few tournaments back after my injury were not pretty. I was unhappy with my performance and becoming discouraged. But the beauty of tennis is that there’s always another event. After each loss, I got back on the horse and tried again.
That summer, I won the Girls 16s Billie Jean King National Championships. This event is the highest grade of junior national tournaments. To win at this level and earn a national “gold ball” (the small ornamental golden tennis ball awarded to national champions) was a goal of mine since I first started playing tennis competitively. I received the trophy from the legendary Billie Jean King herself, which was an incredibly surreal experience.
This success following my injury felt amazing. I now know that even at my lowest points, I can not only recover but grow stronger. After winning nationals, I earned a wildcard into the main draw of the Junior US Open and qualified to the draw of the Women’s US Open. My first exposure to tennis at the highest professional level, I competed alongside the people I’d watched on TV growing up (Serena Williams, Roger Federer, to name a few), which was an unforgettable experience.
You have a fantastic art account!
Thank you so much! Like many kids, I played around with art when I was little and I’ve always loved it. I taught myself using books, the internet, and good old-fashioned trial and error to get to where I’m at now. I started sharing my art on Instagram a little over two years ago, which was when my interest really started picking up. I found art to be the perfect hobby when I began traveling for tennis because I could bring my sketchbook and pencil everywhere.
Drawing is my form of meditation and the perfect balancer to my rather hectic lifestyle. I think there’s definitely a connection between my art and my tennis. They’ve both improved from one another. Art has helped me develop patience and problem-solving skills, which are both directly applicable to tennis.
I can be a bit of a perfectionist both on and off the court. Creating helps me explore outside of the pressure to be perfect. I like to think of the infamous quote by Bob Ross, “we don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents,” and apply it to my art and tennis. Life is all about how you respond to your mistakes, and this what sets apart the good from the great in anything.
FIND REESE'S ARTWORK ON INSTAGRAM @WORNERASER
I've heard you are known among the tennis community for your socks?
I really value self-expression. Tennis is such a diverse community, and the sport has helped me find my own unique identity. Yes- my style has always been a little unconventional. When I play tennis, I wear knee-high socks. I can’t give a good reason as to why I do, just that I’ve done it since I was little because I thought they were cool. Now it’s a part of my identity and I’m known as the girl with the tall socks. I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of some lighthearted teasing for my fashion choices, but that comes with the territory of standing out from the crowd. It is a part of who I am and I love that I can dress the way I want to dress as a way to express myself. I’ll stay true to it no matter what - even though the tan lines are atrocious.
What is in store for the future?
Hopefully more tournaments! I haven’t been able to compete at a full capacity because of the pandemic, but I can’t wait until I can get back on the road full time. Currently, I play a hybrid schedule of junior and professional tournaments. I’m going to keep putting in the work, so I hope to keep climbing up the ladder and maybe you will see me on the big stages!
Thank you all so much for your continued support. We look forward to bringing you the voice of more inspiring artists and changemakers in 2021.
Stay safe! Lots of love, #Team IVA Interview by conducted & written by Naomi Segal