From Monheim to White Plains to Pittsburgh, tennis has played a major role in my life.
Sandra Viehoever
Chief Operating Officer

For the first 14 years of my life, I lived in Monheim, Germany, a fisherman’s village near the Rhine River. Tennis is wildly popular in Germany, home to the largest tennis federation in the world. When I was nine years old, my Dad―a wonderful tennis player―would take me and my older sister to the courts. Occasionally, my Mom would join the fun, so we got a family membership at the Blau-Weiss Tennis Club about 20 minutes away by bicycle. Every day, I would ride my bike to the Club for lessons and practice. I loved it.

Growing up, Steffi Graf was a big inspiration, turning pro when she was just 13. But it was Boris Becker when he was 17, who stole my heart. My Dad took me to a tournament in nearby Dusseldorf to see him compete against Stefan Edberg from Sweden. Our seats were practically on top of the court, and I was thrilled by seeing Boris dive for a volley. I was 12 years old, and Boris Becker was my first crush.

My worst nightmare came true when my Dad was transferred to NYC. My family moved to White Plains when I was 14, where I attended a private German school. While there was no high school tennis, there were plenty of good players in the neighborhood. Playing a lot of tennis and watching a lot of TV helped with mastering English. The saving grace of the transfer was being able to attend the US Open every year. Again, Boris was mesmerizing on the court―I loved watching him defeat Ivan Lendl, winning the men's singles title in 1989. 

A couple of years later, my Dad was transferred to Pittsburgh and my parents bought a house in Upper St. Clair, not far from the courts. I remember Janice always yelling at me for not moving my feet fast enough, but I played well enough to play varsity tennis at USC High School serving as captain and winning WPIALs. I was recruited by Duquesne University to play tennis and was awarded a full, four-year scholarship. While at Duquesne, where I majored in business, I received my PTR certification and started teaching tennis at USCTDP. Additionally, I helped with a variety of assignments, eventually landing in the office, where I continue to work today, serving as Chief Operating Officer. (By the way, Janice never yells at me now… Best boss ever.)



Favorite Female Pro: Steffi Graf and Aryna Sabalenka

Then and now…

Growing up, Steffi Graf was my favorite player. Steffi was the first player to achieve a Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal in the same year. Plus, she is the only tennis player―male or female―to win each Grand Slam at least four times. Phenomenal. 

These days, I’m a big fan of Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus, whose fighting spirit is inspirational. Aryna’s intense―she’s a powerful baseliner with the ability to finish points off at net. She has a strong serve, as well as a return capable of putting her opponents on the back foot from the go. Plus, Aryna’s tall and beautiful…and feisty! What’s not to love? 

Favorite Male Pro: Boris Becker and Rafael Nadal

Then and now…

Okay, so my girlhood crush was Boris Becker, but now, I’m crazy about Rafael Nadal. Rafael is the best fighter ever, but he never throws his racket or loses his cool, making him the best role model for kids of every age. While Rafael’s behind-the-baseline playing style relies on heavy topspin groundstrokes and speedy footwork, it’s his mental strength and tenacity that make him great.

Favorite Tournament: US Open

Always and forever…

I had the good fortune of going to the US Open when the setting was intimate. These days, it’s too big for my taste, but that will never detract from fond memories of going with my Dad and, later, with friends from USCTDP when we had VIP seats and a ‘pro pass’ that included having lunch with the pros.

Favorite Shot: Forehand

To be perfectly honest, the forehand is my favorite shot because I was good at it! 

Steffi Graff’s’ forehand was celebrated for its accuracy. Aryna Sabalenka’s is as fast as any male pro. Rafael Nadal’s forehand is superb for its reach, and Boris Becker…?  While Boris had a strong forehand, it was his unusual rocking motion on his serve, combined with his willingness to dive for volleys that made him a legend.