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Overcoming Obstacles With A Smile

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Victoria Duval is recovering from a serious knee injury just three years after beating cancer. The 21-year-old from Florida is in Sacramento for the USTA Gold River Challenger tournament.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

This week, the United States Tennis Association tournament at the Gold River Racquet Club features players who are beginning to appear in the main brackets of the biggest tournaments in the sport, like Wimbledon, the oldest and most revered tournament in all of tennis.

More than 60 of the best up-and-coming female tennis players in the world are competing in Sacramento. One woman has overcome a lot to be here.

Victoria Duval, 21, turned pro at 17 and has already played Wimbledon twice. But it was her appearance in 2014 that changed her life.

"I had a lump in my neck in February and I got diagnosed in July," Duval said.

Some players take a long time to get over a bad call from an umpire. Duval does not seem to be one of those players.

"They told me after my first match," she said. "So, I kept playing and ended up winning three more matches."

After Wimbledon, she went through chemotherapy, beat cancer and returned to tennis a year later, only to suffer a knee injury.

While some might bemoan their bad luck, she drew strength from what had happened before.

"I know there's tougher things, but, cancer's definitely up there," she said. "So, I was like, 'I've been there, done that before with something tough and I can do it!'"

Knee surgery knocked her out another several months, but she's back at it, with words of wisdom for anyone following in her footsteps.

"Whether it be a sport or a hobby or anything, you just have to appreciate every moment you have that you can do it, because, especially with, like myself, at the flip of a switch, it was gone," Duval said.

She is working to ensure she has something to fall back on after tennis. Each day during the school year, she practices tennis for four hours each day and spends two-to-three hours studying. She's a straight-A student taking online classes at Indiana University East.

The Gold River Women's Challenger has been a confidence booster for Duval. She won three qualifying matches to make the main draw and her first match there. She lost in the second round yesterday.

The tournament ends Sunday.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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