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The Road Always Led to Tennis

By Lillian Gabrielsen

IMC Student

Courtesy of Ole Miss

It’s challenging to know the right career step after graduating, but Alexa Bortles found that you can seek happiness only doing something you love.

Born near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Georgia, the 24-year-old Bortles is the tennis director at Goose Creek Tennis Club. Bortles’ life has always revolved around tennis, which led her to a stellar college tennis career at Ole Miss. 

But Bortles’ childhood dreams were even more ambitious. “I truly believed that I would be playing Wimbledon one day,” she said.

However, plans changed when Bortles graduated from college in 2021. She decided to leave tennis behind and take on a new challenge. She moved to Atlanta and took a job in sales. She describes her experience in sales as “not the right fit, and I absolutely hated it, but I left with valuable lessons and experiences that I am thankful for.”

After quitting her job, Bortles always thought going back into the sports field was attractive; however, she never expected to be running a tennis club. “Tennis has always been what I am most passionate about,” she says. “It only makes sense that I would end up with a job with something I love.”

Tisa Stafford, Bortles’ mother, said about her daughters’ recent career change, “I can tell that she is happier than ever; corporate America was never for her. I am overjoyed she is working with something she is excited to wake up every morning for.”

Bortles, however, has faced challenges since taking over as tennis director. Bortles said  running a tennis club is very different from being a player. “All the on-court stuff is easy,” she says. “It’s the off-court duties and responsibilities which take some getting used to.”

Bortles says that what she found most challenging was getting used to the work hours. Although she is used to long days from being a student-athlete, Bortles works more nights than mornings which has been an adjustment. Also, since it is a big club, she said that there are always things to be fixed and done better, “I have to remember that everything can’t be perfect all the time,” Bortles said.

However, the challenges haven’t stopped Bortles from loving her new position. “I am very fortunate to be in a leadership position,” she says. “For tennis director positions, that is almost unheard of.” 

Her responsibilities include planning events, planning leagues, arranging summer camps and clinics, and networking with the community as the “face of the club.”  

Bortles will stay where she is for a very long time when looking to the future. But she has made a full circle to what she is genuinely passionate about: tennis. “I am very happy where I am,” she says, “and I am just getting my feet wet, so I am excited for what is to come.”

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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